Global Education

Teacher resources to encourage a global
perspective across the curriculum

Niger

Map for Niger
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  • A family, riding donkeys, arrives at a small settlement in the north of Niger.
  • Villages in the dry northern part of Niger are constructed of sun-dried brick and thatch.
  • In a Niger village, this feast of lamb, vegetables and millet, which celebrates a child’s baptism, is shared among everyone.
  • Girls draw water from a hand-built well with a protective rim, some distance from a village in Niger.
  • In Niger, Zelifa hauls water from a well using a flexible bucket.
  • A cart pulled by a zebu makes carrying water back to the village quicker and easier in Niger.
  • A simple wooden pulley reduces the effort needed to haul water from this well in Niger.
  • In Niger, this well and its surrounds have been sealed with concrete, and wheel hubs are mounted to act as pulleys.
  • Drilling down to the water table means a pump can be installed in the village in Niger.
  • In Niger, villagers queue to use the new pump.

Case studies

Wells and pumps in Niger

Girls draw water from a hand-built well with a protective rim, some distance from a village in Niger.
In low-rainfall, drought-prone Niger a deep well and pump reduces the difficult job of collecting water.
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Flag of Niger

Population:

17,466,172

GNI per capita (PPP US$):

910

Population living on less than $US1.25 per day:

43.2%

Adult literacy rates:

15%

Access to water:

52%
Did you know?

Slavery was not prohibited in Niger until 2003, although some nomadic groups still own slaves.

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Geography

Physical geography

Niger is a land-locked country which has borders with seven other countries. With an area of 1,267,000 square kilometres, it is larger than South Australia (983,482 square kilometres) and smaller than Queensland (1,730,648 square kilometres). The Hamada Manguene Highlands dominate the country in the north-east and the Massif de l'Air (Air Mountains) rise in the centre. To the east and west of the central massif are Saharan desert plains. Sand or thin, sandy soil covers much of west, north and central Niger, but around the Niger River Basin in the west, and in the south-east corner near Lake Chad, soils are rich and fertile. Niger’s highest peak is Mount Bagzane (2,022 metres) in the centre of the country.

Climate

The dry and dusty Harmattan wind from the Sahara blows in the north, where desert conditions prevail and temperatures can rise to more than 45 °C. The annual rainy season occurs between May and September but rainfall patterns vary greatly and some areas may receive as little as 2 millimetres of rain a year.

Environment

Much of Niger is already desert but deforestation, overgrazing and recurring drought are leading to the southwards creep of the desert, threatening what small amounts of productive land exist. Wildlife populations are threatened by both poaching for ‘bush food' and destruction of their habitats. Threatened species include the addax, cheetah and dama gazelle. The Sahara oryx has become extinct in the wild.

The Air and Tenere natural reserves and the W National Park of Niger have been listed as World Heritage sites for their varied landscapes, wildlife and plant life.

Population

Most of the population lives near the southern border, with about 18% living in cities. The major urban centres are the capital city, Niamey, and Zinder and Maradi, which are concentrated in the south of the country. About 20% of the total population live traditional nomadic lives in the dry north.

People

Culture and identity

The culture of Niger is made up of regional groups, each with their own culture and distinctive architecture, handicrafts, dances and music. The main ethnic groups are the Hausa, Djerma, Tuareg, Peuhl, Kanouri Manga and Fula. The harsh desert, French colonialism and Islamic religion have influenced language, practices and values.

The Hausa live in the central and southern areas of Niger where they are known for their skills in farming (growing millet and peanuts) and working with leather and textiles. The Tuareg come from a warrior background and now herd camels, goats, sheep and cattle. Their nomadic lifestyle is under threat from persistent drought and the loss of grazing land. The Fula, who are spread throughout West Africa, are also herders who have a rich musical culture of song with drums, hoddu (a plucked skin-covered lute similar to a banjo) and riiti (a one-string, bowed instrument similar to a violin).

Health

Life expectancy in Niger is 55 years (female: 56 and male: 53) and the infant mortality rate is 86 deaths for every 1,000 live births. Just over half the people have access to clean drinking water and only 9% have access to sanitation, a key factor in the spread of diseases such as diarrhoea, hepatitis A, typhoid, cholera and meningitis. Malaria is also a leading cause of death, with 3000 deaths and 2.6 million new cases in 2012. Food shortages mean that many people (especially young children) suffer from hunger and malnutrition. Around 0.5% of the population is living with HIV/AIDS.

Religion and beliefs

Over 80% of the population are Muslim, most of them Sunnis. Christians account for less than 5% of the population, and the remaining percentage is made up of people who practise traditional indigenous religions. The Niger Government is committed to allowing religious freedom.

Food and shelter

Rice is a staple food and is served with fish, chicken and other meats. Manioc (cassava) and beans also feature in the diet of the people of Niger. Among the northern nomadic groups, millet porridge is a staple food. Only 11% of Niger’s land area is arable and recurring droughts lead to food insecurity, even in years of average rainfall.

Nigerien communities have a range of styles of housing reflecting their social, cultural and religious needs. People in rural areas build their own houses using grass, mud, wood and/or stone. In the urban areas, houses may be built with cement walls and a corrugated iron roof.

Economy

Wealth and poverty

Niger is among the poorest of the world's countries. The GNI per capita is US$880 but the richest 10% share 28.5% of wealth, while the poorest 10% share 3.7%. Almost two-thirds of the population lives below the poverty line.

Debt relief has significantly reduced Niger's annual debt service obligations, freeing funds for expenditures on basic health care, primary education, HIV/AIDS prevention, rural infrastructure, and other programs geared at poverty reduction.

Education and work

Schooling in Niger is free and compulsory between the ages of 7 and 12, but only about 49% of children complete primary school. Teacher shortages and the widely spread population create accessibility problems for many children. Abdou Moumouni Dioffo University in Niamey is Niger’s only university.

Only 29% of the total population is literate and there is a wide disparity between the literacy rates of males, 43%, and females, 15% (2005).

Almost half of children are employed for at least one hour a week and 63% of people aged over 15 are in the workforce.

Industries and products

Agricultural products include cowpeas, cotton, peanuts, millet, sorghum, tapioca (manioc extract) and rice; as well as cattle, sheep, goats, camels, donkeys, horses and poultry.

Niger is one of the world’s leading uranium producers. Other natural resources include coal, iron ore, tin and gold exploration for oil in the Lake Chad area is ongoing. Niger's industries include mining (uranium and coal), production of bricks, cement and chemicals, textile manufacture and food processing.

Trade

Niger has a growing trade relationship with China. China has strong uranium interests in the country and exports rice, textiles and telecommunication materials to Niger, and provides employment through development projects such as dam construction, telecommunication establishment and well drilling. Niger’s other key trading partners are France, the Netherlands, French Polynesia and Nigeria.

Government

Niger has experienced political instability, characterised by coups, since it achieved independence from France in 1960. In early 2010 the government led by Mamadou Tandja was overthrown by a military coup. The current president, Mahamadou Issoufou, was elected peacefully in March 2011 and is seeking to improve the country’s democracy.

While slavery was abolished in Niger in 2003, concerns still remain about its prevalence. There are also concerns about armed forces and rebel groups targeting civilians and foreigners. Freedom of the media has improved dramatically under the new government and, with a low literacy level, radio is a key source of news and information for people.

Achievements and challenges

Niger is one of the world’s least developed nations. Frequent droughts have led to long-term food-supply crises (47% of Niger’s population was food insecure during the peak of the recent drought emergency). Large population growth and desertification have placed further pressure on the country’s food supply and economy.

Niger has made good progress in reducing the child mortality rate (MDG 4) and is improving access to healthcare for women and the rural population.

Links with Australia

Australian Aid provides assistance including humanitarian assistance for Nigeriens affected by drought and high malnutrition rates; support for agricultural research through the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO); and Australia Awards (scholarships).

A family, riding donkeys, arrives at a small settlement in the north of Niger.
Photo from World Vision Australia
Print | Save
A family, riding donkeys, arrives at a small settlement in the north of Niger. Photo from World Vision Australia
Villages in the dry northern part of Niger are constructed of sun-dried brick and thatch.
Photo from World Vision Australia
Print | Save
Villages in the dry northern part of Niger are constructed of sun-dried brick and thatch. Photo from World Vision Australia
In a Niger village, this feast of lamb, vegetables and millet, which celebrates a child’s baptism, is shared among everyone.
Photo from World Vision Australia
Print | Save
In a Niger village, this feast of lamb, vegetables and millet, which celebrates a child’s baptism, is shared among everyone. Photo from World Vision Australia
Girls draw water from a hand-built well with a protective rim, some distance from a village in Niger.
Photo from World Vision Australia
Print | Save
Girls draw water from a hand-built well with a protective rim, some distance from a village in Niger. Photo from World Vision Australia
In Niger, Zelifa hauls water from a well using a flexible bucket.
Photo from World Vision Australia
Print | Save
In Niger, Zelifa hauls water from a well using a flexible bucket. Photo from World Vision Australia
A cart pulled by a zebu makes carrying water back to the village quicker and easier in Niger.
Photo from World Vision Australia
Print | Save
A cart pulled by a zebu makes carrying water back to the village quicker and easier in Niger. Photo from World Vision Australia
A simple wooden pulley reduces the effort needed to haul water from this well in Niger.
Photo from World Vision Australia
Print | Save
A simple wooden pulley reduces the effort needed to haul water from this well in Niger. Photo from World Vision Australia
In Niger, this well and its surrounds have been sealed with concrete, and wheel hubs are mounted to act as pulleys.
Photo from World Vision Australia
Print | Save
In Niger, this well and its surrounds have been sealed with concrete, and wheel hubs are mounted to act as pulleys. Photo from World Vision Australia
Drilling down to the water table means a pump can be installed in the village in Niger.
Photo from World Vision Australia
Print | Save
Drilling down to the water table means a pump can be installed in the village in Niger. Photo from World Vision Australia
In Niger, villagers queue to use the new pump.
Photo from World Vision Australia
Print | Save
In Niger, villagers queue to use the new pump. Photo from World Vision Australia