poverty in Niger
Niger is a country in West Africa and is one of the world’s most impoverished nations. Although the country has made significant effort in poverty reduction, Niger’s extreme poverty rate remained at 41.4% in 2019, affecting 9.5 million people. Here are the top 10 facts about poverty in Niger.

Top 10 Facts about Poverty in Niger

  1. Niger’s fast-growing population adds to its high poverty rate. The United Nations expects Niger’s population to triple by 2050. As a result, the country’s inability to break the cycle of poverty for impoverished families will increase.
  2. Population Services International (PSI) Corporation promotes family planning resources in Niger. In 2019, PSI partnered with the Nigerien Ministry of Public Health to administer an outreach mission for voluntary family planning to rural areas of Niger. For example, the operation provided long-acting contraception methods and health education.
  3. Niger battles hunger. As of 2015, with a population of 18 million, 81% of Niger’s population lives in rural areas. Due to the rurality, most of the community does not have access to a food market. This exacerbates the problem of food security for the 20% of citizens who do not have enough food.
  4. Action Against Hunger aided 429,301 Nigeriens in 2018. The program provided better access to food markets and seasonal cast-for-work opportunities. Action Against Hunger assisted families by donating seeds and agricultural tools to those in need.
  5. Niger encounters climate challenges. As a country in West Africa, 80% of Niger is coated by the Sahara Desert, causing challenges for agriculture. The dry climate and minimal crop growth force 40% of Nigerien children under the age of five to experience malnutrition.
  6. Frequent droughts harm Niger’s economy. Niger’s economy relies heavily on agriculture, accounting for more than 40% of its GDP. As a result, when the country faces continuous short rainy seasons, there are food and job shortages.
  7. The World Food Programme (WFP) assists Niger’s farmers. The WFP buys produce from local Niger farmers and connects the farmers with corporate markets. This program helps the farmers to gain a steady income and reduce poverty.
  8. CARE Niger transforms the lives of Nigerien citizens. Since 1973, CARE Niger has reduced hunger through its Food Security and Nutrition and Management of Natural Resources Program. The plan established farmer field schools that advocated for markets and nutrition.
  9. Conflicts near Niger’s borders affect its citizens. Thousands of Nigerians have fled Nigeria to Niger due to violent extremism. As a result, almost 23,000 Nigerian refugees arrived in Niger in April 2020 alone.
  10. The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) establishes nutritional opportunities for Niger. In April of 2020, USAID announced a five-year plan titled the Yalwa Activity, which plans to bolster the capabilities of Nigerien farmers by mandating access to affordable, safe food. Additionally, the Yalwa Activity will enhance food storage for farmers, allowing farmers to sell their produce at markets across Niger.

With its growing population, harsh climate and troubled borders, Niger remains one of the world’s most impoverished nations. Nevertheless, through outreach and international aid, Niger hopes to reduce its extreme poverty rates.

– Kacie Frederick 
Photo: Flickr

Top 10 Facts About Living Conditions in Niger
Following its independence from France in 1960, Niger has faced violent political instability,  deadly droughts and difficult living conditions. The following are the top ten facts about living conditions in Niger.

Top Ten Facts About Living Conditions in Niger

  1. In 2016, Save the Children declared Niger the “worst country for girls” based on two key criteria: child marriage rates and adolescent fertility.

  2. A high rate of child marriage often holds girls back. Over three quarters of Nigerien girls marry before the age of 18. Early marriage only continues the cycle of poverty: girls who marry earlier are less likely to finish school than girls who marry later, which means that they earn less income on average.

  1. High adolescent fertility puts women in danger. In Niger, one in five teenage girls gives birth every year. Nigerien women have the highest birthrate in the world, at over seven births per woman. And childbirth is particularly dangerous for younger girls: WHO estimates that pregnancy complications are the second leading cause of death for adolescent girls worldwide.

  1. “Husband schools” help build stronger families. To ease the burden on Nigerien woman, men learn the importance of helping with what was traditionally considered “women’s work.” The nonprofit Mercy Corps invites men to “husband schools,” where they learn about family planning, cooking and sanitation. Mercy Corps runs 124 such schools in Niger.

  1. High illiteracy remains a stubborn challenge. Only one in five adults in Niger are literate, and as a former French colony, the official language of schooling in Niger is French. Most Nigeriens, though, speak local tribal languages instead, making French literacy a particularly difficult goal.

  1. Frequent droughts make food scarce. Since 2000, Niger has weathered four extreme climate-related food crises. In such seasons of poor rainfall, 30 percent of people cannot meet their food needs. In 2017, one and a half million Nigeriens were food insecure, and 42 percent of children under age 5 faced chronic malnutrition.

  1. The World Food Program protects Nigerien children. To tackle the effects of food insecurity, the World Food Program treated 650,000 acutely malnourished children and nearly half a million malnourished pregnant and lactating mothers in 2015 alone.

  2. Uranium mining depletes Nigerien resources. The French company Areva mines for uranium in the Nigerien town of Arlit. Areva uses millions of liters of water each day, while Arlit’s vegetation has entirely dried up. A 2010 Greenpeace study showed that over its decade of operation, Areva has used 270 billion liters of water, entirely depleting ancient aquifers.

  3. Mining contaminates Nigerien water. A 2009 study by Greenpeace showed that five out of six examined water wells in Arlit contained excess radioactivity. And a 2004 study by the French Commission for Independent Research and Information on Radiation showed that uranium levels found in Arlit’s drinking water were up to 100 times the WHO safety standard.

  4. Activists stand up against corporate exploitation. After her mother, father and husband died from cancer traced back to radon exposure from Areva’s uranium mines, Jacqueline Gaudet founded the organization Mounana. The organization works with Doctors of the World to collect testimonies from Areva’s former employees to build court cases.

Remedying Colonialism

These top ten facts about living conditions in Niger reflect the need for international assistance to help remedy the harmful effects of colonialism. While living conditions in Niger are difficult, dedicated activists and nonprofits are steadily changing the landscape.

– Ivana Bozic

Photo: Flickr

Niger is one of the poorest countries in the world, ranked last on UNDP’s 2015 Human Development Index — nearly 20 percent of Nigerien population cannot meet their food needs due to insufficient production. Less than 12 percent of the land in Niger is actually fertile, and there is an expected 33 percent decrease in agricultural activity in the next 50 years.

According to World Bank, the best way to help the situation is to grow drought resistant crops and come up with new ways to store water.

However, these efforts may be challenged by the conflicts spilling in from three of Niger’s neighboring countries. The conflict in northern Nigeria has relocated many chronically malnourished people into the Lake Chad area. Fighting has crossed over the border, worsening local food insecurity and endangering host communities, refugees and humanitarian workers.

Access to clean water is nearly nonexistent. Lack of food and water has caused malnutrition, disease, flooding and displacement — all of which contribute significantly to poverty in Niger. Many families are unable to provide the basic needs of food and clean water for their children. Save the Children is working to alleviate suffering among child refugees, returnees, internally displaced children and locals through health and nutrition programs, among others.

The World Food Programme has been working with Niger since 1968 to alleviate hunger and malnutrition.

The organisation has aligned its goals with the United Nations’ 2030 agenda, most notably with sustainable development goals 2 and 17: “End hunger, achieve food security and improved nutrition, and promote sustainable agriculture,” and “Strengthen the means of implementation and revitalize the global partnership for sustainable development.”

Oxfam has also assisted in reducing poverty in Niger for 25 years. They raise money to implement an education system and pastoral communities by means of lobbying and demanding accountability from the states.

Oxfam is using the media to promote a strong social society through political participation and reducing gender-based violence, women leadership and promoting sexual equality. They are installing a water system to provide clean drinking water for essential activities.

With a continued effort to reduce poverty in Niger, these organizations and other coordinated global forces will hopefully be able to make a lasting difference in the lives of these vulnerable people.

– Nicole Hentzell

Photo: Flickr