Poverty in Niger
When something so essential to a country’s well-being is on an economic swing, it may be hard for it to maintain— especially if there is no warning of the ways that will lead to an abundance of woes. In a land where agriculture is dire to the prosperity of its people, many cannot afford the setbacks stemming from a poor water infrastructure. However, in Niger, where the water is either too little or too much to sustain anyone, it is the livestock that heavily influences the level of poverty in Niger and determines who the poverty affects.


Harmattan’s dry, dust-filled winds are frequent in Africa’s west side, dissolving clouds, lowering humidity and replacing the once fertile landscapes with inarable terrain. Increased temperatures in these settings will lead to the pervasiveness of droughts and strain in the agricultural sector— one that employs almost 90% of the population and could be a way out of poverty in Niger.

Last year, Niger experienced a 78% rainfall deficit in which its economy struggled to stay afloat. The agriculture sector makes up 40% of Niger’s GDP, missing the percentage of those living in extreme poverty by just 1.8%.

As the probability of a good year’s harvest dwindles due to prolonged drought, irregular rainfall and the increase in unsuitable land to carry out agricultural activity, many find themselves working in the field of livestock production where the benefits seem to outweigh the risks.

Livestock has a heavy association with wealth; 69% of livestock herders did so to make money. In rural areas, this figure increased by 10% with 79% of the population reporting that they were involved in livestock work to generate wealth, according to the 2020 Helda report.

Camels as a Status Animal

Though livestock production is not an avenue all Nigeriens explore, it is responsible for 90% of the country’s exports. However, all livestock production is not for monetary gain. According to World Atlas, some Nigeriens opt for subsistence farming where they carry out tasks to sustain themselves and their family.

Niger is a country that mainly uses camels due to their ability to withstand extensive droughts, high tolerance to desiccation and the low-risk, high-reward nature of the even-toed ungulate. Camels could be the safest animal to possess in comparison to other livestock animals as they are capable of providing a stable source of food and finances. They traditionally helped to extract water from dwellings, transportation and pack saddling. Now with new technology, they can help to plow through deserted soil and expose the nutrient-rich ones that were hidden underneath, providing farmers with a new, cost-effective way to cultivate the land.

During the dry season, farmers who engage in transhumance pastoralism begin to move their livestock through Niger’s mainlands in order for their livestock to feed, according to the 2020 Helda report. On these expeditions, herders sell, trade with or buy from locals. One camel can cost and sell for more than $1,600.

Breeding camels contribute to economic expansion as various breeds are in high demand. The value of the camel and other livestock goes without saying. In rural parts of Niger, people use livestock as an alternative payment method, according to the 2020 Helda report. Having a multitude of animals is also seen as a status symbol.

Milk Production

Camels also produce milk. However, milk coming from camels only consisted of 10.1% of the annual milk-related products to have come from the country, according to the 2020 Helda report. However, one entrepreneur, Wouro Habsatou Aboubacar set out to change that when she started her own camel milking and herding business as a teen. Aboubacar owns more than 100 camels and provides local groceries with milk and its townspeople with a source of employment. Niger is one of the top milk producers in West Africa, making more than 1,700 liters of milk a year, according to the 2020 Helda report.

Poverty Reduction

Rural poverty in Niger was at a time, averaging 65.5% in 1999. Urban poverty stood at 35.3%. Since the use of livestock as a means of survival and poverty reduction has been implemented, poverty dropped from 2005-2011, when Niger was among one of the countries that surpassed other coastal countries in livestock production. During 2011-2012, Niger made more than $482 million a year off meat alone, according to the 2020 Helda report.

Nigerien farmers usually make $500 a year. This number could increase by 12% if small-scale irrigation becomes widespread. At present, Niger’s economy is recovering from blows taken during the pandemic where their economy dropped by 1.5%, according to the World Bank. The agricultural boom could not only help the nation’s overall economy but the people living there as well.

– Dorothy Quanteh
Photo: Flickr

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 a significant effort in poverty reduction, Niger’s extreme poverty rate was 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, the Sahara Desert covers 80% of Niger, 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