© WFP/Tim Dirven
Niger is a land-locked country in the Sahel region facing a food deficit. Its population of 18 million people is growing at 4 percent a year – one of the highest rates in the world.
More than 1.5 million people in Niger were affected by food insecurity in 2017. Another 1.5 million are estimated to be chronically food insecure, and millions more experience transitory shortages during the lean season. Nearly 20 percent of the population cannot meet their food needs because of factors such as inadequate agricultural production, security constraints and high demographic growth. This figure rises to nearly 30 percent during periods of poor rainfall. In a context of widespread and entrenched gender inequality, food insecurity affects women disproportionately, especially in rural areas. Persistent gender disparities continue to challenge development and have an impact on food and nutritional security.
42 percent of children under 5 years of age suffer from chronic malnutrition and 10.3 percent are acutely malnourished. Diets lack the necessary vitamins and minerals. As a result, over 73 percent of children under 5, and almost 46 percent of women of reproductive age, are anaemic.
The rainy season is short, and the country is hit by increasingly irregular rainfall, rising temperatures, desertification and ever more frequent climate shocks. Four severe climate-related food and nutrition crises since 2000 have exacerbated Niger’s vulnerability to food insecurity.
Epidemics and conflict in three neighbouring countries aggravate the situation. The conflict in northern Nigeria has displaced people – many of whom are chronically malnourished – into the Lake Chad Basin area. Fighting has spilled over the border, deepening local food insecurity and endangering host communities, refugees and humanitarian workers.
The economy cannot support adequate social safety nets for Niger’s large vulnerable population, and the Government’s ability to confront hunger is limited by financial, capacity and logistical constraints.
The World Food Programme has been working in Niger since 1968. Our current work aims to alleviate hunger and malnutrition not only in emergency situations but also in the long term through carrying out resilience-building activities. Our operations are aligned with the United Nations’ 2030 Agenda, particularly 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’.
What the World Food Programme is doing in Niger
Climate sensitive livelihoods and asset creation
WFP helps the poorest populations to build livelihoods through its community-based asset creation programme. In exchange for food assistance, beneficiaries create assets through activities including regenerating land or rehabilitating ponds. There is a special focus on access to land and markets for the poorest and women. Special measures to support climate risk management and the communities’ preparedness to shocks, like early warning, climate insurances and services will be expanded to build long-term resilience.
Support for smallholder farmers
Using its purchasing power to buy from local smallholder farmers, WFP effectively links agricultural recovery programmes with its own food and nutritional assistance interventions. This helps smallholders to connect to institutional markets. WFP also supports a progressive transfer of knowledge and capacity to national counterparts, combining technical assistance and other capacity building and policy support.
WFP Niger’s nutrition programme involves a comprehensive, community-based lifecycle approach, which focuses on children under 2 years old, pregnant and nursing women and adolescent girls. Within this framework, WFP supports treatment of moderate acute malnutrition, prevention of malnutrition and integration of micronutrients. It also ensures that all interventions mainstream nutrition and particularly support local production and fortification of nutritious foods.
WFP partners with the Ministry of Education to design, implement and build capacity to deliver school meal programmes. Beyond health and nutrition outcomes, WFP places emphasis on supporting school enrolment and educational empowerment of girls. Community participation and the promotion of homegrown school meals, with special attention to the integration of smallholder farmers through local purchases, are central to WFP’s strategy.
Emergency preparedness and response
WFP provides life-saving food assistance and nutrition support to crisis and shock affected populations, including internally displaced persons, refugees and host communities. Special attention is paid to Lake Chad Basin crisis response, supporting people through the lean season and addressing the Malian refugee situation. In a context of recurrent crises, WFP Niger is also investing in preparedness to ensure effectiveness, efficiency and rapid response when crises occur.
Capacity development and strategic partnerships
WFP Niger supports capacity development to achieve the Zero Hunger Goal. This combines supporting Zero Hunger governance and response capacities. WFP offers nationally tailored technical assistance and capacity building packages in key areas like early warning and disaster risk reduction, resilience, smallholder market support or productive and social safety net programming. Within this framework, WFP also invests in developing a broad range of partnerships to bring in knowledge, resources and other means needed to achieve Zero Hunger.