A landlocked country in the Sahel region of Africa, the Niger ranks last on UNDP’s 2015 Human Development Index. Its population of 19.8 million people is growing at 3.9 percent a year – one of the highest rates in the world.
More than 2 million people in the Niger are chronically food-insecure, 4.5 million are at risk of food insecurity, and millions more are affected by transitory shortages during the lean season. Nearly 20 percent of the population cannot meet their food needs because of factors such as inadequate production, security constraints and 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.
Chronic malnutrition affects 42 percent of children under five, and over 10 percent are acutely malnourished. Diets lack the necessary vitamins and minerals. As a result, over 73 percent of children under five, and almost 46 percent of women of reproductive age, are anaemic.
Although nearly 80 percent of the population work in agriculture, only 12.5 percent of land is arable. The rainy season is short, and climate change is causing increasingly irregular rainfall, rising temperatures, desertification and more frequent shocks. Traditional storage cannot preserve crops long enough. These factors combined contribute to food insecurity, making it difficult to eke food out through the lean season even in good years.
The situation is exacerbated by epidemics and conflict in three neighbouring countries. The conflict in northern Nigeria has displaced people – many of whom are chronically malnourished – into the Lake Chad 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 its 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 the Niger since 1968. Our current work aims to alleviate hunger and malnutrition not only in emergency situations but also in the long term through resilience-building. 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
WFP provides food and nutrition assistance to populations at risk, including schoolchildren and adolescent girls. During the lean season, vulnerable families – including refugees – receive unconditional food or cash to promote food security and stability. WFP’s food assistance to refugees aims to encourage peaceful co-existence with host communities by reducing competition for scant food stocks.
WFP supports health centres in treating moderate acute malnutrition in children under two and pregnant women. For periods in which food scarcity escalates, WFP maintains an emergency response capacity to provide fortified foods to prevent malnutrition and address micronutrient deficiencies. WFP also promotes and supports local production and fortification of nutritious foods.
WFP partners with the Ministry of Education to design, implement and build capacity in delivery of school meal programmes. The programmes aim to encourage school attendance, especially among girls and nomadic children. Community-level support and training promotes school gardens and herds, and local grain mills. Smallholder farmers, particularly women, benefit from local purchases of produce for the meals.
Outside the lean season, WFP’s food assistance is conditional on participation in activities that help to build resilience to climate shocks, increase food production, and reduce poverty. WFP seeks to secure access to land and markets for the poorest people, and prioritizes female farmers who are especially marginalized.
Disaster risk reduction
WFP provides technical support to the Government to build capacity in climate-related disaster risk reduction. This includes exploring facilities such as the African Risk Capacity, climate insurance and services for individual farmers, and early warning of climate events that will affect food production. It also includes addressing vulnerability to climate change, and formulating plans at government level to mitigate its effects.
Partners and donorsAchieving Zero Hunger is the work of many. Our work in Niger is made possible by the support and collaboration of our partners and donors, including:
- The Government of the Republic of the NigerThe Ministry of AgricultureAssociation pour la Promotion du Bien Etre (APBE)Regional Permanent Secretariat of the National Device for the Prevention and Management of Disasters and Food Crises (DNPGCCA)
- VND NUR