Niger: The African Development Bank enhances food security for nine million people (report)

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The Water Mobilisation Project to Enhance Food Security in Maradi, Tahoua and Zinder Regions (PMERSA-MTZ), implemented between 2011 and 2018 in Niger, has sustainably increased agricultural production and productivity and increased food security for nearly nine million residents of this Sahelian country, according to a report by the African Development Bank.

Financed through a loan of $11 million from the African Development Fund and a grant of $28.7 million from the Global Agriculture and Food Security Programme, the project directly involved 218,000 people in the three regions of south-central Niger, with another nearly 476000 indirectly affected. These three regions are home to approximately 56 percent, or 8.9 million people, of the country’s population.

“The project’s expected effects, as far as food security, increased production and jobs, were achieved overall,” according to the PMERSA-MTZ final report. The team was led by Moustapha Cheick Abdallahi Cheibany, senior agricultural economist for the Bank.

“Grain production goals were 94 percent achieved and those for vegetable production were exceeded (123%). A very clear improvement in the availability of agricultural and livestock products has been demonstrated, and income for the population has been increased due to higher yields, commercialised agricultural production and the revitalization of production areas,” notes the report team.

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The average expected level of grain production (15,000 tonnes/year) was achieved and surpassed in 2017 and 2018 to reach 16 000 and 21 156 tonnes, respectively. With 16 000 tonnes annually, vegetable production surpassed its goals in 2017 (122%) and 2018 (179%).

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The project entailed establishment of various types of infrastructure (irrigation projects, including 47 sills (small dams) and 11 mini-dams, water and soil conservation techniques on 3 700 ha, and the construction of 74 wells and 273 km of rural tracks) with the goal of developing and securing agricultural production (on 18 800 ha irrigated and decreasing). It also supported product commercialisation and, more broadly, improving the living conditions of the rural residents involved.

Furthermore, increasing production necessitated accompanying producers to promote and better and more sustainably manage the new infrastructure. This was done specifically by outreach activities, the construction of 124 agricultural buildings (grain warehouses, animal feed warehouses, seedstock centres), and the promotion of revenue-generating activities for women and youth.

Gender-related issues were considered in most activities undertaken by the project. It specifically emphasized women’s representation in management entities of farmer’s organisations. In addition, PMERSA-MTZ encouraged the empowerment of women and youth by supplying 1,500 carts, 105 maintenance kits, 15,150 sheep and goats, and 598 miscellaneous equipment (mills, huskers, oil presses, and manioc processing units).

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“At its conclusion, the project demonstrated a more than 98 percent achievement rate for its goals, which were revised higher at mid-project. The completion rate greatly surpassed the initial indicators in the evaluation report (240%). The project’s performance was therefore very satisfactory, ” concludes the project report.

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Niger: The African Development Bank enhances food security for nine million people (report) - Brand SpurNiger: The African Development Bank enhances food security for nine million people (report) - Brand Spur

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Singapore Employees Lack Retirement Support From Companies While Financial Wellbeing Becomes a Top Priority: Aon Survey

SINGAPORE - Media OutReach - 14 April 2021 - Aon plc (NYSE: AON), a leading global professional services firm providing a broad range of risk, retirement and health solutions, has released the findings of the 2021 Trends in Retirement & Financial Wellbeing survey for Singapore.


Working adults in Singapore ranked retirement planning as their top priority but an alarming 80% underestimate how much they really need to retire. While retirement support from employers is also lacking, further challenges remain around transparency in group retirement plans' investment offerings and employees foregoing long-term perspectives to seek short-term gains.

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Ashley Palmer, Regional Managing Partner, Retirement & Investments, Asia for Aon, said, ""Employers can have a significant impact on how much their employees save by instilling smart habits and healthy money behaviours. The right long-term savings vehicles, effective communications and financial tools will help Singapore's workforce be more financially resilient in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic."


The survey identifies three main themes in financial wellbeing and retirement support for Singapore employees.


Financial wellbeing support is the new employee expectation. As a result, close to 40% of employers rank an employee financial wellbeing strategy as their highest priority, followed by emotional and mental wellbeing support. The survey shows that 70% of Singapore employers will formulate or execute financial wellbeing programmes throughout 2021, in line with employee expectations. Companies also view offering a financial wellbeing programme critical in increasing employee engagement and remaining competitive in the talent market.


There is an increasing trend of employer-led supplementary savings plans. Currently, 22% of companies surveyed offer Central Provident Fund (CPF) top-up contributions to citizens and Permanent Residents. But, close to 40% of the working population in Singapore are foreigners who do not have access to CPF and are likely to have foregone their retirement benefits in their home countries. To bridge this gap, and to provide equitable retirement benefits to all employee groups, close to 50% of the organisations surveyed offer supplementary retirement benefits to their foreign staff. Financial services firms are leading in this practice, followed by the technology and the healthcare sectors.


Promisingly, a third of organisations in Singapore are prioritising a thorough review of their supplementary retirement arrangements in 2021.


Alicia Brittain, Senior Consultant & Actuary, Retirement & Investments, Singapore for Aon, said, "Forward-looking companies first need to understand the financial worries of their employees and identify the gaps in their benefits offering. The most effective approaches are aimed at changing individual behaviours towards money and savings and providing accessible programmes and vehicles to deliver sustainable change. For example, when organisations provide retirement benefits as cash-in-lieu, it is most likely immediately spent and so does not form part of an emergency fund or long-term savings for the employees' retirement years. Supplementary retirement plans solve this issue and are more flexible and cost effective - and can also offer contributions above the monthly CPF wage cap to increase employee savings."


Employees in Singapore lack a well-defined default investment strategy. Less than 30% of the surveyed companies in Singapore currently offer their employees an investment choice in their retirement plans, and only 15% of retirement plans have a default investment fund. This leads to employees selecting their own optimal investment funds. They may lack experience in understanding investments, which can lead to misallocating their money and result in inadequate retirement savings or excessive risk taking.


Brittain added, "The key to protecting employees and adding value to savings in any defined contribution retirement plan is a well-defined default investment strategy. This includes frequent performance monitoring, actively managing investment risks and dynamically reducing investment risk as employees move towards retirement."


Notes to Editors

The Aon 2021 Trends in Retirement & Financial Wellbeing for Singapore survey was designed to help organisations understand the unique retirement and financial needs of their Singapore workforce. This tri-annual survey was completed by organisations with employee populations ranging from five to over 4,000 and are based in Singapore. Responding Rewards and Benefits Leaders, HR and Finance Professionals provided feedback and insight on their organisations' financial wellbeing and retirement programmes, interests and concerns. Click here for the full report.

About Aon

Aon plc (NYSE: AON) is a leading global professional services firm providing a broad range of risk, retirement and health solutions. Our 50,000 colleagues in 120 countries empower results for clients by using proprietary data and analytics to deliver insights that reduce volatility and improve performance.

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