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 affect a large part of the population. In 2019, 1.5 million Nigeriens will require food assistance. Nearly 20% of the population cannot meet their food needs due to inadequate agriculture practices, high population growth, and security constraints. This figure rises to 30% during periods of low rainfall.
The majority of people in Niger — around 75 percent of working adults — make their living in the agro-pastoral sector, which is suffering at the hands of climate-related stressors. 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 a 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% 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.
Our Niger country team is made up of over 70 staff members, who are led by Country Director Robert Lankenau. More than 30 percent 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 stressors 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 $68 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.
How to help
Niger: "When suffering time comes, we have to suffer": Coping with hunger in Niger
There’s no easy way to solve the problems that hunger brings to Halima and families like hers. With each passing day, a new challenge arises. Mercy Corps is helping address those challenges.
How a goat can change a girl
In Niger—a country where hunger is chronic, poverty is rampant, and opportunity for women is nonexistent—goats can offer girls like Fatsuma security, providing income and a rare chance to build a stronger life.
Guatemala, Kenya, Niger, Nigeria, Tunisia: Empower a woman, unleash a leader: Why we support young female entrepreneurs
We provide women and girls with resources to build better lives, because we know strong women equal strong families and communities.
Niger: Why we're inviting men to husband school
Women in rural Niger traditionally bear the burden of all the tasks that a healthy home and family depend on. We're helping strengthen families by teaching husbands to take an active role, too.
Ethiopia, Niger: When women lead
We support women and girls, because a woman armed with knowledge and resources is empowered to better her family, her community and the world.
Youth at a Crossroads
Today, millions of youth are at a crossroads: In a world of crisis, they will either become a force for peace or one of continued instability. We must support and empower them now, while they are making the choices that will determine the fate of their lives and their communities.
Niger: How farm school is helping Salma beat hunger
Through training and new techniques, Salma and her community are learning to grow more hearty, bountiful crops to carry them through the hunger gap, the time between harvests when food stores traditionally run out.
Niger: The hidden survivors of the hunger gap
Every year, millions of people in Niger have to figure out how they will survive between harvests. This is what they look like.
Niger: Girl, Uninterrupted: How Dahara built a future by saying no to child marriage
Niger is one of the world's toughest places to be a girl — here, early marriage stops the majority of girls from finishing school and reaching their full potential. Find out how Dahara is bucking tradition and building a life on her own terms.
Ethiopia, Niger, South Sudan: Fighting hunger in Africa takes more than food
Hunger: It’s not a new problem for many countries in Africa. However, the reasons why millions of people go hungry go much deeper than a lack of food.