africa_map4Facts about Niger

  • Niger is immediately to the north of Nigeria with four-fifths of the terrain being consumed by the Sahara Desert.
  • Being a land-locked country, the only water source is the Niger River, which flows through the South Western corner of the country.
  • Niger is the least developed country in the world, according to the United Nations Human Index (current rank is #186.) Source:
  • The average income is $390 per year, close to a dollar a day – one of the lowest. Source: World Bank
  • The life expectancy is roughly 55 years.
  • One in four children die before the age of 5.
  • Niger ranks highest in the number of children born to women, but also the second highest in infant mortality rate.
  • Nearly 65% of the people living in Niger have never been enrolled in school.
  • The literacy rate is 29%.
  • 80% of Nigeriens are Muslim, with less than half of 1% being Christian.

Challenges and Opportunities

  • The economy in Niger is largely dependent on subsistence crops and livestock. Agriculture provides livelihood for about 80% of the population.
  • Natural resources such as uranium and oil are found in Niger. Oil production and exports, in particular, are expected to grow in the next 5-10 years.
  • However, cyclical drought, desertification, and strong population growth have undercut the economy.

Food Situation in Niger

A food and nutrition crisis resulting from cyclical severe droughts is threatening the survival of an entire generation of children in the Sahel region in West and Central Africa.

map_sahelregionThe Sahel is one of the poorest regions in the world, and children already face daunting odds of survival.

Too often, inadequate rain, poor harvests and rising food prices have left hundreds of thousands of children vulnerable and weak. In addition, conflicts in neighboring nations have resulted in refugees pouring into Niger. The already strained supply of food must be stretched even further.

2011-2012 Food Crisis

  • A UN World Food Program (WFP) spokesman said villagers in Niger described the situation as worse than 2005, when thousands died of hunger.
  • Half the population (about 7 million people) faces food insecurity.
  • The WFP says 17% of children are acutely malnourished.
  • 378,000 children face starvation over the next few months.
  • Not only are many villagers going short of food, but their livestock – their only asset – have died off.
  • Food prices rose by about 300% since the crisis began, making it difficult for Nigeriens to afford to buy the remaining food.

While these conditions may seem severe, there is strong opportunity for growth, especially when matched with improving education for children.

Learn more about how our Programs are leading today’s Nigerien students into the future.