Niger, also known as the Republic of Niger, is a vast landlocked country in West Africa. The Sahara Desert covers 80% of its land. Niger’s hot and dry climate and weak transportation system have shackled its economy.
The majority of the over 25 million inhabitants face challenges like chronic food insecurity, cyclical floods, recurrent epidemics and a lack of access to education and healthcare. In addition, conflicts often lead to the forced displacement of thousands of people.
SOS Children’s Villages has been supporting children and young people without parental care, or at risk of losing it, in Niger since 1993.
Protecting children’s rights is an ongoing challenge in Niger. The country has one of the youngest populations in the world: around 50% of Nigeriens are 14 years-old or younger.
Children from large families sometimes have to work so that enough food can be produced. About 42% of Nigerien children between the ages of 5 and 14 work instead of going to school. Many children are at great risk of exploitation and violence.
Niger has the highest birth rate in the world, where the average woman gives birth to 7 children. But, due to widespread poverty and lack of essential social and medical services, a large portion of children remains vulnerable to malnutrition and disease. As a result, Niger also has one of the highest rates of mortality among children under the age of 5. In addition to HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria, which remain a major public health issue, Niger’s population also faces repeated outbreaks of measles.
6 out of 10 Nigerien women find it justifiable for a man to beat his wife. Due to movement restrictions since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, women are increasingly at risk in their own homes.
Child marriages are also widespread. Most women in Niger are married before the age of 18. Child marriage is internationally recognized as a form of gender-based violence and young girls or women are at greater risk of sexual, physical and psychological violence.