MOHAMED BAZOUM, President of Niger, stated that due to climate change the African continent is being exposed to worsening food insecurity, displacement of populations, recurring droughts and pressures on water resources. He welcomed that the international community has recognized that the upcoming Conference of the Parties will be a unique opportunity to redress this imbalance. In this regard, he expressed his country’s commitment to the proposal brought forth by African negotiators towards a new goal of allocating $1.3 billion by 2025 to face climate change in the Sahel.
Turning to security issues, he mentioned that the situation in the Sahel has worsened in recent years. Since the fall in 2011 of the Libyan regime, he continued, the State has never been able to exercise authority through a stable Government. The south of Libya has become a platform for transnational organized crime, and “we see a blossoming of trafficking in arms, drugs, fuels and migrants,” he noted. He also stated that Mali has never been able to recover from the violence coming from Libya, and in turn has become a breeding ground for terrorism.
The Sahel has been deeply affected by climate change, he continued, threatening the practice of industrial farming in the region. Many young shepherds have turned to terrorism. He emphasized that violence has led to the recent fall of democratically elected Governments in Mali and Burkina Faso. His country also faces another terrorist threat around the Lake Chad Basin, where groups belonging to the Boko Haram operate. In that context, he stressed that his country’s experience of organizing transparent elections and handing over power in a democratic fashion has shown that “the best way to ward off the effects of terrorist violence is to strengthen the democratic system, and nothing else.” He went on to thank France, the United States and Germany for their support towards his country’s fight against terrorism. Meanwhile, he stressed that the commitment of the international community to fight terrorism in the Sahel still shows “great gaps”. He emphasized that it is high time that the great Powers in the region, as well as the international community, worked together towards effective actions in fighting drug- and arms-trafficking in the Sahel.
He went on to emphasize that demography, insecurity and terrorism are closely linked in his country. Highlighting that Niger sees an annual population growth rate of 3.9 per cent, an average fertility rate of seven children per woman, and the first pregnancy for around half of the girls happening before the age of 15, he stressed that his country is committed to improve access to education as well as its quality, which in turn slows down the rate of population growth. Becoming emotional and speaking about terrorist violence will not be enough. “We have to act by investing in the resources that we need in education in order to fight the violence of today and prevent the violence of tomorrow,” he said.