Niger experiences low and variable rainfalls, land degradation, deforestation and desertification. The vast majority of Nigerians depend on agriculture for their livelihoods, and frequent droughts in the region often damage crop yields, leading to food shortages in the country. Chronic food insecurity and a high prevalence of infectious diseases have led Niger to record some of the highest malnutrition and mortality rates in the world. According to United Nations estimates, nearly 3.4 million Nigeriens are chronically food insecure.
Niger consistently ranks at or near the bottom of the United Nations Development Program’s Human Development Index. Chronic food insecurity and infectious disease have resulted in some of the highest rates of malnutrition and mortality in the world. Over forty percent of children under five are chronically malnourished and the rates of acute malnutrition are well beyond the threshold for public health emergencies. In addition, Niger has the highest fertility rate in the world. Left unchecked, Niger’s rapid population growth will further undermine health service delivery and weaken the resilience of the most vulnerable populations.
The vast majority of Nigeriens rely on subsistence agriculture and the region’s frequent droughts lead to poor harvests and regular food shortages. Chronic food insecurity and infectious disease have resulted in some of the highest rates of malnutrition and mortality in the world. As of January 2015, United Nations estimates placed Niger’s food-insecure population at nearly 3.4 million people.
It is widely recognized that inadequate access to water and sanitation services has enormous health, economic and social consequences. Poor water quality continues to pose a major threat to human health. Diarrheal disease is the second leading cause of death in children under five years old, and is responsible for killing around 760,000 children every year (WHO, 2013). A significant proportion of diarrheal disease can be prevented through safe drinking-water and adequate sanitation and hygiene. In communities that lack safe drinking water, women and girls spend several hours each day collecting water from distant sources, and this reduces opportunities to attend school.
In line with the worldwide goal of ending the AIDS epidemic by 2030, government officials from ECOWAS member states committed to providing comprehensive health services for key populations in West Africa. They finalized a declaration of their commitment at an April 10, 2015, meeting hosted by the Government of Senegal and organized by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) in collaboration with the U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief and the West Africa Health Organization.
Last updated: February 25, 2016