About four-fifths the size of Alaska, Niger sits in West Africa’s Sahara region. Niger’s climate is mostly hot, dry, and dusty, with sand dunes in the north and the desert plains in the south. The Niger River basin in the south has fertile grassland with a tropical climate.

  • Population: 17,157,000
  • Life Expectancy: 58 years
  • Access to Safe Water: 50%
  • School Enrollment: 64%
  • Land Mass: 489,191 sq. mi.
  • Literacy Rate: 29%
  • Under Age 5 Mortality Rate: 114/1000
  • Average Annual Income (GNI): 370

Facts about Niger

Niger is one of the most impoverished countries in the world. In 2009, it ranked last of 182 countries on the United Nations Human Development Index, which measures the general well-being of a population.

Niger has a fertility rate of 7.1 children per woman within child-bearing age, which ranks the country among those with the highest fertility rate in the world. Unfortunately, it has only one qualified midwife for every 4,418 women at childbearing age.

Niger has an insufficient number of medical staff. It has one doctor for every 43,564 inhabitants, one pharmacist for 769,230 inhabitants, one dental surgeon for 769,230 inhabitants, and one qualified nurse for 5,203 inhabitants.

According to UNICEF, Niger has the highest rate of child marriage.

Though the rate of school enrollment is increasing, the completion rate is still around just 50 percent.

Around 40 percent of children under 5 in Niger are underweight.

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Progress in Niger

Thanks to the generous support of our sponsors. World Vision was able to work alongside communities to accomplish the following in 2013.

  • Helped children obtain birth certificates, giving them a legal identity so they have access to education.

  • Worked to create a safer environment for kids by conducting community awareness campaigns on children’s rights and protection issues.

  • Furnished schools with desks and benches, and trained teachers and school management committees on ways to improve the quality of education to help more children succeed academically.

  • Provided handwashing stations in schools, improving hygiene to help keep kids healthy.

  • Partnered with local health centers to vaccinate children, keeping them safe from preventable diseases.

  • Coordinated efforts with local health centers to distribute bed nets and raise awareness about malaria prevention methods.

  • Drilled and repaired borehole wells as well as equipped local water committees to care for water sources to help ensure access to safe water.

  • Built latrines for families and educated children and adults on basic hygiene and sanitation practices to help prevent the spread of disease.

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    World Vision in Niger Today

    World Vision is committed to partnering with the people of Niger to improve their lives today and to help enact sustainable solutions for the future of their children, families, and communities. World Vision’s child sponsorship program plays a vital role in this partnership, with donors from the United States sponsoring more than 8,700 girls and boys. In addition to sponsorship, World Vision operates other programs that benefit communities in Niger. Highlights include:

    • Supporting 631 schools with learning materials such as books, desks, and pens.
    • Providing communities with methods of water treatment to improve access to clean water.
    • Making medical services accessible to mothers and children in the most rural areas.
    • Helping families produce food through gardening under small-scale irrigation.

    World Vision History in Niger

    World Vision’s work in Niger began with drought relief efforts in August 1973. Since then, some of World Vision’s major accomplishments have included:

    • Providing sponsorship to thousands of children since the late 1990s.
    • Building a multi-functional health center for families in northern Niger in 2002.
    • Improving Nigeriens’ health by raising awareness about HIV and AIDS and providing many villages with access to clean water since 2004.
    • Distributing 350 tons of cereal and seed stock after the 2005 locust infestation.

    Geography & People

    Geography and people

    About four-fifths the size of Alaska, Niger sits in West Africa’s Sahara region. Niger’s climate is mostly hot, dry, and dusty, with sand dunes in the north and the desert plains in the south. The Niger River basin in the south has fertile grassland with a tropical climate.

    Natural resources include coal, iron ore, tin, phosphates, gold, gypsum, salt, and petroleum. Niger is the world’s sixth-largest producer of uranium.

    The two largest ethnic groups in Niger — the Hausa and the Djerma-Sonnghai — make up more than 75 percent of the population. While French is Niger’s official language, Nigeriens use several other native languages.

    The majority of Niger’s labor force works in agriculture by growing peas, cotton, peanuts, rice, and other crops.

    Families are important in the Nigerien culture. Children are expected to respect their parents as well as obey older people.


    Niger fell under French influence in 1896 and was colonized in 1922. In 1960, Nigeriens proclaimed independence from France and established a republic.

    During the 1970s, the country enjoyed rapid economic growth, mostly from its uranium production. Niger’s brief period of prosperity ended, however, when uranium prices fell a decade later. The drought of 1968-1975 devastated the country, leaving an estimated 2 million starving people.

    Since then, Niger has experienced political and tribal unrest, a severe famine, and a locust infestation in 2005. The northern Tuareg rebels, feeling marginalized by the faraway southern government, formed the Niger Movement for Justice and attacked several government facilities in the Sahara region in 2007.

    In September 2009, heavy rainfall in Niger flooded thousands of homes and hundreds of acres of cropland, affecting more than 79,000 people. Nigeriens faced one of the worst food shortages in years in 2010, with over 1.5 million children suffering from malnutrition.

    Prayer Requests for Niger

    • That the most vulnerable families would be able to provide adequate food for their children.
    • For brighter opportunities for girls in Niger, of whom 75 percent are married by age 18 and cannot pursue higher education.
    • For food shortages to end so families can feed their children.
    • For economic growth and political stability within the country.