Learn more about specific causes in Niger that you can get involved in.
EnvironmentOne of Niger’s greatest threats to livelihood is climate change, since the majority of its citizens are employed in subsistence agriculture. Since the country’s economy is largely dependent on its agricultural outputs, drought and climate change can severely impact the country’s GDP.1 Niger is also a landlocked country, which means that water scarcity is a real challenge. Other water sources are polluted by oil spills caused by drilling companies, leaving local populations without clean water.2 In some communities, oil pollution has destroyed the resources needed for fishing and farming, and the corrupt government has done little to help.3
FamilyNiger has one of the highest rates of child marriages in the world. Approximately 28% of the country’s girls are married by age 15, and 76% are married by age 18.1 Domestic abuse and violence against women are widespread and socially acceptable, and nearly 70% of women have experienced abuse and humiliation at the hands of their spouses, fathers, or male relatives.2
Human RightsThe biggest human rights violations in the country are due to armed conflict between government security forces and terrorist groups like Boko Haram. Citizens face the possibility of death, arrest, torture, and forced labor. The corrupt government also suppressed freedom of speech and expression, especially for journalists who spoke out against the authorities. Because of conflict in neighboring countries, Niger has also become the host for many refugees.1
Education1.3 million children of primary school age have never attended school, largely due to child labor demands. Currently, 42% of Niger’s children attend school and only 24% complete their schooling.1 Only 31% of girls attend primary school, and only 8% continue on to secondary school. Child marriage, poverty, and violence all contribute to these low levels of school attendance.2 The literacy rate in the country is only 20%, with a male literacy rate of 27% and a female literacy rate of only 11%.3
PovertyNiger is ranked last on the Human Development Index and 76% of the population survives on less than $2 a day. The country has improved its per capita GDP in the past few years, but this success is overshadowed by severe poverty, especially in rural areas. Women and children in rural areas are most severely affected because of their lack of opportunity. The agriculturally-based economy is vulnerable to external changes and shocks.1 45% of the country lives below the poverty line.2
ReligionThe overwhelming majority of citizens in Niger practice Islam, and their judicial system is based on Sharia law. Nearly 80% of the population is Muslim, and the remaining 20% consists of Christians and those following indigenous belief systems.1
Clean WaterIn Niger, approximately 58% of the population has access to regular clean water, while only 10% has access to adequate sanitation infrastructure.1 The country’s dry climate and political instability prevent clean water distribution and sanitation infrastructure.2 This leads to the majority of the population suffering from diseases like chronic diarrhea and cholera. The health centers in rural areas are overwhelmed with the number of cholera cases, and many people go untreated.3 The lack of water access and security leads to over 10,000 child deaths each year and prevents thousands of other children from attending school.2
EconomyNiger has experienced economic growth in small increments because of increased exports, but overall its economy remains fractured and unstable. Economic regulations are rarely enforced, hindering business growth.1 Agriculture and exports account for the majority of the country’s GDP, leaving the economy susceptible to fluctuating markets and bad weather.2 International aid has freed up some resources and funds for improving the infrastructure and providing welfare to citizens.1 5% of the population is unemployed, and 45% live below the poverty line.2
GovernmentThe Republic of Niger has a constitution and three branches of government. There is both a president, who is the head of state, and a prime minister, who is the head of government. Niger has a long history of government corruption. Corruption, nepotism, and impunity continue to undermine any meaningful reforms that the civil society has attempted to implement.1 The public sees the government as corrupt and ineffective with overzealous security forces, but the widespread lack of education leaves the public powerless in fighting corruption.2
HealthNiger consistently ranks at the bottom of world development indexes because minimum international health standards are not being met. Unclean drinking water, malnutrition, and pervasive poverty are all causes of death and disease. Malaria is a common disease and causes one-fifth of all child deaths. The country lacks a sufficient number of health care facilities and workers, especially in maternal healthcare. One in six Nigerien children will not reach their fifth birthday due to conditions like malnutrition and malaria.1
ChildrenSince Niger is one of the world’s poorest countries and has a fast rate of population growth, there are limited resources for child welfare. In Niger, more than 20% of children will die before they reach age five due to lack of access to improved water and sanitation. Contaminated water and unsanitary conditions lead to the spread of diseases like malaria and diarrhea that can devastate vulnerable children.1 Niger children are often employed in agriculture or the mining industry. 48% of school aged children work, and 26% of those combine work and school.2 Niger also has one of the highest rates of child marriages with 28% of girls being married by age 15 and 76% by age 18.3
AnimalsNiger’s dry, desert landscape is home to a variety of species like cheetahs, giraffes, jackals, and elephants.1 The Niger River provides nourishment for many of the country’s animals. Some species of monkeys and manatees face extinction due to excessive poaching.2
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