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What are the current issues in Niger

Niger is a landlocked, least-developed, low-income, food-deficit country in the Sahara–Sahel belt, with a population of over 16 million. Niger ranks last on the 2013 Human Development Index (186 of 186 countries), and life expectancy at birth is 55 years. The fertility rate is among the highest in the world, at 7.6 births per woman, and the maternal mortality ratio is 590 per 100,000 live births.

It is estimated that 2.5 million people in Niger are chronically food-insecure and unable to meet their basic food requirements even during years of average agricultural production. During periods of constrained access to food, millions more can quickly fall into acute transitory food insecurity. Over-reliance on subsistence rain-fed agriculture and animal husbandry, widespread poverty, limited infrastructure, low levels of education, and limited effective coverage of basic services, aggravated by high population growth, high levels of indebtedness, and recurrent crises, have weakened the resilience of the most vulnerable people.

In 2012, an accumulation of shocks, including cereal and pasture deficits; high cereal costs and limited work opportunities in Niger and the region; and high levels of household debt exacerbated the already fragile situation. By the peak of the lean season, 22 percent of the population was estimated to be severely food insecure. Even during good harvest years, the food and nutrition security of poor and very poor households is extremely fragile as a result of limited production capacity compounded by high indebtedness, low purchasing power, and high dependency.

The situation of children is of particular concern: one in eight children never reaches the age of five and 42 percent of children are chronically malnourished. During the peak of the 2012 crisis, the national prevalence of global acute malnutrition among children 6-59 months reached 14.8 percent nationwide, exceeding the emergency threshold of 15 percent in four of eight regions of the country. Historic trends indicate that even during non-crisis years, rates of acute malnutrition can rapidly peak beyond emergency thresholds during the lean season period, when food access is most constrained.

What the World Food Programme is doing in Niger

WFP aims to strengthen the resilience of the chronically vulnerable and at risk communities by enhancing human capital development (nutrition and education) and supporting increased local production through land regeneration and irrigation activities, all the while ensuring a critical food and nutrition safety net during seasonal periods of constrained access to food.

Under a Protracted Relief and Rehabilitation Operation (PRRO), WFP implements: Food for Assets activities promoting land regeneration and water harvesting/irrigation activities towards increased local production; year-round Targeted Supplementary Feeding for moderately acute malnourished children 6-59 months and pregnant/nursing mothers.

Activities are carried out under the leadership of the government and through strengthened partnerships with FAO, IFAD, UNICEF, and UN Women, as well as international and national NGOs and microfinance institutions.

The PRRO also allows for a flexible targeted food/cash and nutrition safety net during seasonal periods of constrained access to food.

In addition, a five-year development project is being implemented with three components: education, rural development, and support to people living with HIV/AIDS.

Under a regional Emergency Operation (EMOP), WFP is responding to the food and nutrition needs of households displaced by the conflict in Mali, with a special focus on children 6-59 months.

The UN Humanitarian Air Service (UNHAS) continues to support humanitarian activities in Niger and the subregions by providing safe, efficient and cost-effective air transportation, and guarantees medical and security evacuations as necessary.

Featured Niger publications

  • Niger: WFP Country Brief (PDF, 404 KB)

    A Country Brief provides the latest snapshot of the country strategy, operations, operational highlights (achievements and issues/challenges), partnerships and country background.

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