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HDI ranking: 186/187
HDI score: 0.304
Niger has suffered significant political and institutional instability in recent years, including military coups in 1996, 1999, and 2010. In its most recent 2010 Constitution, Niger establishes the institutional architecture of a republic including bodies and frameworks for cooperation on issues of national interest and establish peaceful democracy (IMF, 2013).
Local governance at a glance
- The Niger government has three levels of subnational government (UCLG, 2008):
- 8 regions, led by a regional council and council leader;
- 36 departments (sub-provinces), led by councils and a council leader; and
- 265 municipalities (213 rural and 52 urban), led by municipal councils and a mayor.
- Niamey, Maradi, Tahoua, and Zinder are all urban communities with urban community councils composed of delegates from each member municipality and urban community council leader elected by the delegates (UCLG, 2008).
- Municipal councils have both elected members with decision-making authority as well as advisory members, usually leaders of community groups and administrative units. The voting members are elected through universal direct suffrage in a proportional representation system (UCLG, 2008).
- The central government has decentralized trusteeship bodies at each local level of government, including governor and prefect positions, that weigh in on legal developments. However, this control mechanism is often not used in practice as prefects and their representatives often lack the power to carry out this authority (UCLG, 2008).
- “State representatives have control over the a posteriori legality of the actions of municipal authorities” (UCLG, 2008).
- There are gender quotas at the subnational level. “In parliamentary and local elections, the lists submitted by political parties, groups of political parties or groups of independent candidates should include candidates of both sexes. At the announcement of final results, the proportion of elected candidates of either sex, should not be less than 10%” (Quota Project, 2014).
Civil society actors
- The Association des Femmes Juristes du Niger (AFJN) works to improve the legal status of women (GNB, 2014).
- The Association Nigérienne de Défense des Droits de l’homme (ANDDH) provides training and civic education on human rights (ANDDH, 2012).
- Youth Association of Women and Local Governance
- Démocratie, Liberté, Développement
- Association of Women for Development
Capacity building institutions
- The Association des Municipalités du Niger (AMN) seeks to promote sustainable development by strengthening capacities of municipalities (AMN, 2011).
- Local authorities send their financial and administrative accounts to the State Audit Office for review at the end of each fiscal year (UCLG, 2008).
- Municipalities are primarily funded by central government allocations and tax revenue. Local and state authorities also have shared taxes (UCLG, 2008).
- Local councils have authority to create remunerative duties that pay for services beneficial to the taxpayer. These must be delivered by the region, department, or municipality. Councils can also add tax surcharges to the central government’s taxes and surcharges (UCLG, 2008).
Key initiatives for participatory local governance
- In 1961 after independence, Niger adopted Law No. 61/30 that created local authorities and later in 1964, law 64/023 created administrative constituencies and included local authorities in the framework of state centralization (UCLG, 2008).
- The process of decentralization since 1991 has been in response to federalist demands from those involved in the armed rebellion (UCLG, 2008).
- Developed in 2000, the Poverty Reduction Strategy Document included a strategic issue regarding “the promotion of good governance, strengthening human and institutional capacity and decentralization” to achieve stronger and sustainable political, economic, and local governance (UCLG, 2008).
- In June 2000, a law was passed to create quotas for female representation. The law mandates that political parties in electoral contests give 10 percent of the candidacies to whichever gender has the lowest level of representation. Additionally, at least 25 percent of posts that are appointed for high-level state positions must also follow this rule. The law was successful in getting women involved in municipal councils. In the 2004 elections, women were elected to 17 percent of council seats (UCLG, 2008).
- A law passed in 2002 made traditional chiefs ex officio members of local councils and gave them advisory capacities, which allowed for traditional chiefdoms to be included in local institutional plans.
- A law 2002-013 passed in June 2002 mandated the transfer of responsibilities and powers to local authorities.
- The High Commission for Modernization of the State created the National Policy on Modernization of the State designed to create government administrative reforms to increase the quality and accessibility of government services provided to citizens (IMF, 2013).
- The National Decentralization Policy passed in March 2012, giving local governments, instead of the central government, local control over the implementation of policies, good governance, sustainable local development, and local democracy (IMF, 2013).
Challenges for participatory local governance
- Local governments are limited by the inability to mobilize internal resources to fulfill responsibilities and service delivery (IMF, 2013).
- The illiteracy level and lack of training and capacity of a large number of councilors have resulted in weak local authority bodies and as a result, these bodies have experienced reduced autonomy (UCLG, 2008).
- Decentralization and the 2004 creation of elected municipal authorities have been carried out without solid political support (de Sardan, 2012).
Recent posts on this website about this country:
- Development as a collective action problem : addressing the real challenges of African governance : synthesis report (2012)
- Women in search of citizenship : experiences from West Africa (2012)
- Providing public goods : local responses to policy incoherence and state failure in Niger (2012)
- Four case studies on the experience of SDC and its partners in supporting socially inclusive local governance (2011)
- FAGLAF : Forum d’action pour la gouvernance locale en Afrique francophone (2011)
- Agrarian change below the radar screen : rising farmland acquisitions by domestic investors in west Africa : results from a survey in Benin, Burkina Faso and Niger (2011)
- LASDEL : Laboratoire d’études et de recherche sur les dynamiques sociales et le développement local (2010)
- Local governance and public goods in Niger (2010)
- Capacity for effective participation (2010)
- Accroître les ressources financières des communes : pratiques émergentes en Afrique de l’Ouest et du Centre (2008)
List of sources :
Association des Municipalités du Niger (AMN), 2011: https://www.facebook.com/pages/AMN-Association-des-Municipalit%C3%A9s-du-Nige/208759179173618?sk=info.
Association Nigérienne de Défense des Droits de l’homme (ANDDH), 2012: http://anddh-niger.org/.
Girls Not Brides (GNB), 2014: http://www.girlsnotbrides.org/members/association-des-femmes-juristes-du-niger-afjn/.
International Monetary Fund (IMF), 2013: “Niger: Poverty Reduction Strategy Paper.”
de Sardan, J., 2012: “Providing public goods: Local responses to policy incoherence and state failure in Niger.”
Quota Project, 2014: “Niger.”
United Cities and Local Governments (UCLG), 2008: “Country Profile: Niger.”