The United States and Niger: A Strategic Partnership
Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken’s travel to Niger on March 16, 2023, is the country’s first visit by a U.S. Secretary of State. He will meet with President Mohamed Bazoum and Foreign Minister Hassoumi Massoudou. Secretary Blinken’s visit to Niger following the U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit is a recognition of our robust bilateral relationship with a key partner on democracy, governance, and regional security.
Since the establishment of diplomatic relations in 1960, the United States is proud to partner with Niger in the country’s efforts to consolidate democracy and foster inclusive economic growth for the benefit of all Nigeriens and the broader Sahel region. The U.S.-Nigerien relationship is focused on strengthening peace and security, food security, democratic governance, respect for human rights, education, and a vibrant civil society in West Africa.
The United States recognizes Niger’s humanitarian leadership – continuing to maintain open borders to those fleeing conflict – at a time of increasing border closures and restrictions on movement globally.
U.S. Support to Niger
U.S. foreign assistance to Niger seeks to improve food security, build counterterrorism and peacekeeping capacity, sustain security sector reform, support productive agricultural enterprises, promote democratic governance, address climate change, support justice sector reform, improve health and education, and strengthen security sector education and training.
In 2022, the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) Board of Directors voted to approve the agency’s first-ever concurrent regional Compacts, with Niger and Benin respectively. The proposed regional Compacts are designed to reduce transportation costs and improve operations along the corridor between Niamey and the Port of Cotonou in Benin.
Niger’s $442 million Sustainable Water and Agriculture Compact with MCC is in its final year and projects include the largest irrigation perimeter, satellite imaging, and hydrogeological assessments.
The United States has plans to provide $101 million in bilateral FY 2022 assistance to Niger for food security; education; democracy and governance; and health and security assistance. This includes $9 million in supplemental funding to address increased food insecurity.
Niger has been a target country for Feed the Future, the U.S. government’s flagship global hunger and food security initiative, since 2013. In Niger, Feed the Future invests in sustainable water security, livestock, climate-resilient agricultural production, new infrastructure, market access and natural resource management.
The United States also provided nearly $135.4 million in bilateral humanitarian assistance to Niger in FY 2022. The U.S. is the largest single donor of humanitarian assistance in the Sahel region and globally.
The U.S. remains the leading donor to the regional refugee response in the Sahel. The U.S. provides life-saving assistance to refugees, internally displaced persons, and vulnerable host communities in Niger, including those fleeing conflict and instability.
Niger is the largest recipient of State Department military assistance in West Africa and the second highest in Sub-Saharan Africa.
Pandemic Response and Health Diplomacy
In September 2022, USAID announced new funding for Niger totaling $44 million to respond to the food insecurity crisis that has been made worse by a combination of the COVID-19 pandemic, climate shocks, protracted conflict and humanitarian crises, and above-average global food prices.
In partnership with COVAX, the United States provided 1,435,860 safe and effective COVID-19 vaccine doses to the people of Niger – free of cost. This includes 629,460 Pfizer and 806,400 Johnson & Johnson doses.
Through the U.S. President’s Malaria Initiative, USAID and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are working to reduce malaria infections and death rates in the country. USAID supports Niger’s National Malaria Control Program to implement the national malaria control strategy. This support also includes help to improve the program’s diagnostic and treatment capacities. USAID provides support to the National Office of Chemical and Pharmaceutical Products to improve stock management of medicines to prevent or treat malaria, rapid diagnostic tests, and bed nets.
Climate and Energy
Through its $442 million Sustainable Water and Agriculture Compact with Niger, MCC has assisted in the fight against climate change by providing:
3 years of 50 million livestock vaccinations and 1000 kilometers of livestock corridors improved through social accords.
91,000 hectares of land reclamation with the “demi-lune” application.
83 grants totaling 9.6 million (through the U.S. African Development Foundation) to groups engaged in climate-resilient agriculture strategies.
Trade and Investment
At the U.S. Africa Leaders Summit in December 2022, the MCC signed concurrent regional Compacts of up to $504 million with Niger and Benin respectively ($302 million for Niger and $202 million for Benin) to both physically improve the Niamey-Cotonou trade corridor and incorporate policy and institutional reform components to enhance cross-border collaboration and efficiencies.
In 2021, the U.S. International Development Finance Corporation approved its first-ever investment in Niger: a $3 million loan portfolio guaranty with Orabank Niger, to encourage lending in the agriculture, livestock, and food value chain sectors.
Cultural Exchange Programs
The Department of State’s educational and cultural programs such as the Young African Leaders Initiative’s (YALI) Mandela Washington Fellowship focus on engaging young Nigerien leaders who have established records of promoting innovation and positive impact in their communities and countries. Niger has 60 alumni from the Mandela Washington Fellowship. The digital YALI Network connects young people from across the African continent, including Niger, with U.S. thematic content that focused on top policy priorities such as women’s empowerment, climate, economic growth, and good governance.
The Youth Exchange Study program provides approximately 900 scholarships for high school students to live in the United States for the purpose of promoting mutual understanding between our countries. The Pan African Youth Leadership Program offers secondary school youths and adult educators three-week, intensive exchanges in the United States.
Democracy and Governance
Niger has taken important steps to consolidate and strengthen its democracy. The 2021 elections were the third time since 2011 that citizen's democratically elected new leaders, and the first where power transferred peacefully via elections from one civilian president to the next.
Niger has joined several international and regional anti-corruption initiatives – including the UN Convention against Corruption, and the African Union Convention on Preventing and Combating Corruption and Related Offences – and President Bazoum has pledged to prioritize anti-corruption efforts in Niger, to support democratic principles and economic growth.
The U.S. supports the ability of civil society and media to engage the government more effectively, hold the government accountable and build demand for targeted policy reforms and improved government implementation. This includes support for civil liberties and strengthening civic participation, especially of youth, women, and girls, in democratic governance.
Peace and Security
Niger remains one of the most resilient countries in West Africa and a crucial partner for the United States. We have a true partnership with Niger: in addition to providing critical bilateral assistance, U.S. officials work alongside their Nigerien counterparts to assess security threats, share technical expertise, strategize stabilization interventions, and jointly work toward peace. Our government assistance supports every facet of Nigerien stabilization programs, from improving the transparency of government food distribution in Dosso Region to strengthening the collaboration among the National Guard, National Police, and the communities they serve.
Since 2016, the Government of Niger has run a national Disarmament, Demobilization, Reintegration, and Reconciliation (DDRR) program to facilitate the reintegration of individuals who defect from Violent Extremist Organizations (VEOs). To reduce the risk of Nigerien youth being recruited by VEOs, USAID is working to increase youth participation in political and economic life and improve access to justice in conflict zones.
The United States is supporting the advancement of Women, Peace, and Security (WPS) activities, including support to women-led civil society organizations in Diffa, Tillaberi, and Niamey, and contributing to the implementation of the Government of Niger’s WPS National Action Plan. From the inception of Niger’s DDRR program, the Departments of State, Justice, Defense, and USAID have provided over $20 million to support Niger’s DDRR process. S. government assistance has supported Niger in developing a groundbreaking inter-ministerial framework as the first civilian-led, legal process for the reintegration of eligible defectors from VEOs.