Mercy Corps has been working in Niger since July 2005, when we first responded to the severe food security crisis that plagued the country. Our approach has since evolved to also include programming on early recovery, resilient livelihoods, and community development. In 2018 alone, Mercy Corps Niger reached 139,000 vulnerable Nigeriens.
One of the world's poorest countries with an annual per-person income of less than $400, Niger ranked last (189 out of 189) in the UNDP’s 2018 Human Development Index.
Widespread, chronic malnutrition affects a large part of the population. In 2019, 1.5 million Nigeriens will require food assistance. Nearly 20 per cent of the population cannot meet their food needs due to inadequate agriculture practices, high population growth, and security constraints. This figure rises to 30 per cent during periods of low rainfall.
The majority of people in Niger — around 75 per cent of working adults — make their living in the agro-pastoral sector, which is suffering at the hands of climate-related stresses. The increasing severity of climate change is heavily impacting the people of Niger, their livelihoods and overall quality of life. In 2018 alone, over 100,000 people were impacted by floods, and millions more have been impacted by droughts.
Because more erratic rainfalls, poor agriculture practices and degraded land, Nigeriens are experiencing lower crop yields, and the country faces regular food shortages and rampant malnutrition. Over 1.7 million people across Niger are at risk of malnutrition and 1.4 million more are extremely food insecure and need immediate food assistance. Niger has one of the highest stunting rates in the world — four out of every 10 children under the age of five are physically stunted.
In addition to environmental challenges, gender inequalities persist. Niger has the highest child marriage rate in the world. One out of every four girls in Niger marries by the time they turn 15, three out of every four marry by the age of 18. Reports estimate that half of women in Niger have their first child by the time they turn 18. Fewer than 10 per cent of the poorest girls in Niger between the ages of 13 and 16 years old are in school.
Niger also remains the major transit point for migrants from throughout West Africa and beyond on their way across the Sahara to Libya or Algeria.
Despite these challenges, the people of Niger are resilient and hopeful that a brighter future is on its way. By supporting Nigeriens to become more resilient to shocks and stresses and enabling their inclusive and equitable development, we are helping build a stronger tomorrow for everyone in Niger.
More than 30 per cent of our staff members are women, and except for four international colleagues, all team members are Nigerienne. They, therefore, have a unique and personal understanding of the issues experience by their country and individual communities.
Our work addresses a wide range of issues facing the people of Niger. We are increasing food security through improved agriculture, livestock systems, and natural resource management. We are empowering women and helping girls transition into the formal education system to complete their schooling and delay marriage. We are helping mitigate the impacts of climate change and climate-related stresses such as drought by preparing emergency plans with farmers and local governments. We are working with rural households and communities to diversify their livelihoods while creating new economic opportunities, particularly for rural, urban and mobile youth.
Finally, we are strengthening peace and stability through the enhancement of social cohesion and the culture of peace. All of our work is guided by the increasing use of technology-for-development and humanitarian response (T4D) in order to more effectively deliver impact.
Over the years, we have helped more than 1 million Nigeriens and have programmed more than £52 million, working in all eight regions of the country. Here are a few of our most recent results:
- Last year we reached more than 139,000 people in Niger.
- We are providing “Safe Spaces” for more than 1,000 adolescent Malian refugee girls in Abala district.
- We recently helped rehabilitate degraded land and access water through garden wells.
- We are meeting the immediate food security needs of more than 8,000 households in Tillaberi region, one of the most food insecurity prone and unstable regions of Niger.