This piece was originally posted on Agri-Pulse.
By Heather Kulp, Executive Director of the Niger Delta Partnership Initiative
Editor's Note: Agri-Pulse and the Chicago Council on Global Affairs are teaming up to host a monthly column to explore how the US agriculture and food sector can maintain its competitive edge and advance food security in an increasingly integrated and dynamic world.
Nigeria is Africa’s largest economy and with its population growing by four to five million people per year, it is a huge market for American products. In 2015, Nigeria purchased over $700 million of exports from the United States, 73 percent of which was wheat from American farmers. What is good for Nigeria is good for the US too. Economic development efforts in Nigeria and the Nigeria Delta are not charitable; they are strategic. Moving away from a more traditional development model focused directly on giving, which can create dependency on donor funding, and instead building market systems that are responsive to local needs, create opportunities and address barriers to growth.
The Niger Delta Partnership Initiative (NDPI) Foundation represents this unique development model rooted in partnership. Begun with $90 million of seed funding by Chevron Corporation in 2010, NDPI harnesses the power of the private and public sectors to help alleviate poverty and instability in Nigeria’s Niger Delta through collaborative, market-based solutions that are community owned and implemented. Since 2010, we have worked with more than 500 organizations, including aid agencies such as USAID and DFID, local and state governments and NGOs. Through this partnership approach, NDPI has helped bring in nearly $100 million in additional investment into the Niger Delta.
A lesson we have learned through our years of working in Nigeria’s Niger Delta is that the path to stability and prosperity is built on opportunity. When regional economies are strong and secure, farmers, fishers and families are able to thrive and live up to their full potential. Despite an abundance of natural resources in the Niger Delta region, millions of people suffer from chronic poverty and lack essentials such as safe water, electricity, education and the opportunity to build a better life for themselves. These conditions have fomented repeated cycles of conflict. With this new model of development, we are breaking the cycle of conflict.