About the Situation
By the Numbers
More than 18 million people live in Niger
Nearly 3/4 of the population lives in severe poverty
More than 70% of adults are illiterate
Only about half of the population has access to an improved water source
44% of children are moderately or severely stunted in growth
43% of children ages 5-14 work to earn an income
1 in 10 children will die before age 5
(Sources: World Bank, World Food Program)
Niger is a low-income, food-deficit country, ranking last of 187 countries on the United Nations’ 2014 Human Development Index. Three-quarters of the population lives in severe poverty, and communities depend heavily for survival on rain-fed crops and livestock. This leaves the people highly vulnerable to crisis. An estimated 2.5 million people are food-insecure even during normal times, and this number rises dramatically during droughts or other stresses.
Children are particularly vulnerable to malnutrition and illness. Nearly half of children are moderately or severely stunted in growth, and 1 in 10 will die before age 5. Life expectancy for babies born now is a little over 58 years. According to the most recent data available, in 2012, less than 1/3 of births were attended by a skilled worker, and the maternal mortality rate is high.
Education levels are low as well. The average woman has attended school for less than one year, and the average man for about two years. And rather than focusing on school, nearly half of children work to earn an income.
How Islamic Relief is Helping
Islamic ReliefTM began working in Niger in 2005 with an emergency response to address a food and nutritional crisis there. Islamic Relief Niger has been established there to continue work with local organizations and nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) to implement and oversee development projects in the region.
Here’s a breakdown of some programs Islamic Relief has supported in Niger:
RESILIENCE IN SEMI-ARID AGRICULTURE
More than 10,000 individuals in Anzourou stand to benefit from the construction of a mini-dam and 5 boreholes that will provide fresh, clean water for agricultural purposes as well as for consumption by the community members and their livestock. The project will also include the promotion of irrigated farming schemes; training sessions and support for farmers; the development of 5 seedling nurseries for the rehabilitation, conservation and improved management of degraded lands; and two storage facilities to prevent food spoilage.
ORPHAN SUPPORT & SPONSORSHIP
RAMADAN FOOD DISTRIBUTION
Islamic Relief was on the ground in Mali and Niger to provide vital aid to millions affected by severe drought conditions and food shortages across the Sahel region. Islamic Relief provided services such as water and food distribution and health care.
NIGER EMERGENCY HEALTHCARE PROJECT
More than 57,450 individuals stand to benefit from an emergency healthcare project, implemented to provide vital aid to those in dire conditions, as well as training to medical staff who will be assisting and treating patients. Major focus will be put on helping improve the health and nutrition status of children under 6 as well as their mothers, and other women approaching motherhood. The goal is to help reduce the severity of malnutrition that plagues many throughout the Ouallam and Tillaberi districts of Niger. In a separate project, Islamic Relief USA has partnered with Islamic Relief Niger and Project CURE to provide much-needed medical equipment to health centers and hospitals in Niamey, including District Hospital de Filingue. This effort stands to benefit 85,800 patients per year.
Read “Water Saves Lives, Builds Livelihoods”, written by Islamic Relief USA’s Reem El-Khatib, to get a first-hand glimpse into the positive effects a solar-power water distribution and borehole system, funded by Islamic Relief UK donors, has had on living conditions in Niger.