Over 50% of Niger’s population lives below the poverty line. With the coming to power of the 7th Republic optimists are seeing an opportunity to maximise on constitutional reforms which will not only alleviate poverty levels but also establish structures that will protect vulnerable groups within society from everyday shocks. ProtecSo, the name given to the Niger Social Protection Platform, in partnership with the Africa Platform for Social Protection (APSP), on 12th May 2012, brought together over 100 participants to Niamey for a one day workshopchristened the Information Day for Sensitization, Exchange (experiences) and Advocacy under the theme Fighting Against Poverty in Niger.

The meeting which was held under the auspices of the Economic, Social and Cultural Council (CESOC), also brought onboard the Niger Grassroots Development Organisation (ONDPH).

The purpose of the workshop was to build capacity among participants who included national deputies, representatives from the ministry of public health, ministry of planning, territorial management and community development, the ministry of population, women empowerment and protection of children, private sector, international and local non-governmental organisations, civil society, universities and the private sector. Niger which is pressed with a number of social issues singled out employment creation especially for the youth, pension schemes for the aged, social safety nets for the society and a social health fund as some of the key issues plaguing the nation.

Coincidentally, some of these issues are also cited in the National Strategy for Development and Poverty Reduction of 2008-2012 (SDRP), and backed by provisions in the constitution. These give credence to the mandate and vision of ProtecSo and provide the necessary instrumentation to push the Social Protection agenda forward bringing together key stakeholders to work together in synergy to realise a common ambition for Niger. Under ProtecSo’s banner efforts can be consolidated to allow for both policy formulation and implementation to take a smoother course. ProtecSo is glad to report that the workshop allowed participants to interact with experts in the field and express their views and ideas in open plenary that saw a clear prescription of functions for the platform. Notably the Annual Action Plan for Niamey and its environs made a debut during the workshop. This goes a long way in providing a guiding document for the leaders who were present and a reference point with which to engage Social Protection issues.

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