As a landlocked country located in the heart of the Sahel, Niger is one of the poorest countries in the world. With limited natural resources and human capital, it faces immense challenges and pressure.
This vast country of some 25 million people ranked 189th out of 191 in the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Human Development Index in 2021, with a per capita GDP of US$594.90, one of the lowest in Africa. Poverty is compounded by a security crisis in border areas, extreme vulnerability to exogenous shocks, and inequalities that disproportionately affect girls, women, and children. Its population is one of the fastest growing in the world (3.7% per year) and 49% of Nigeriens are under 15 years of age.
Two thirds of its surface is desert. Only a strip in the south of the country is green. Access to water is a problem for a large part of the population, even if water towers are gradually arriving in the cities. The desert is growing by 200,000 hectares each year. Government reforestation programmes are hampered by frequent droughts and the growing demand for wood and agricultural land. Since 1990, the forest has lost a third of its surface and now covers only 0.9% of the country.
Niger has faced political instability since its independence in 1960. Since then, it has experienced seven republics and violent takeovers by the national army. After a succession of regimes ending in coups, the 2011 presidential election restored civilian rule with the election of Mahamadou Issoufou in the second round. He was re-elected in March 2016. In the December 2020 and February 2021 elections, Mohamed Bazoum, a candidate of the ruling party, was elected president of Niger, democratically succeeding his predecessor.
Multiple economic, social, environmental, and security challenges weigh heavily on the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) established by the United Nations: low human capital development, environmental degradation and climate change, high population growth, low and erratic economic growth, food and nutrition insecurity, overall insecurity in the country, and the impact of security problems in neighboring countries (Mali, Burkina Faso, Nigeria, and Libya), particularly in the form of migration flows.
Niger's economy is centered on food crops, livestock, and some of the world's largest uranium deposits. It has changed little in 20 years and is not very diversified or specific. Although Niger's recent GDP growth has been relatively robust (averaging 5.2% between 2000 and 2020), it has not resulted in the fundamental change in the economy needed to achieve a sustained period of income growth and poverty reduction in the face of a challenging demographic outlook.
Only 17% of the population is urban, and most (1 million) live in the capital Niamey. Niger shares a common currency, the CFA franc, and a common central bank, the Central Bank of West African States, with seven other members of the West African Monetary Union.
Over the past 20 years, Niger's social indicators have improved significantly, and this trend is expected to continue. The gross primary school enrollment rate increased from about 29% in the early 1990s to 66.42% in 2020, and the number of girls entering primary school relative to boys also increased over the same period, from 25 to 40%. The under-five mortality rate declined between 1990 and 2015, from 320 to 78 per 1,000. Adult HIV/AIDS prevalence remains at 0.1% - one of the lowest rates in sub-Saharan Africa.
This recovery in economic growth and social indicators is reflected in the steady improvement in the country's Human Development Index, which has risen from 0.229 in 2000 to 0.400 in 2021 - although this is one of the lowest scores in the world. The insecurity situation in the north, west and southeast of the country is a risk factor for the economic and social development of the region. Growing regional insecurity and the presence of violent extremist groups in the border areas threaten the country's stability and fuel pre-existing inter- and intra-community tensions. They also exacerbate conflicts over natural resources, the marginalization of youth and women in the labor market, and the weakness of public services in the border areas. The actions developed by LuxDev are part of the fourth Indicative Programme of the Niger-Luxembourg Cooperation. The main areas and fields of activity in Niger are the following:
- education and vocational training;
- employment and employability;
- water and sanitation;
- public financial management;
- food security.
In Niger, development actions are now part of the Economic and Social Development Plan (PDES), whose implementation period covers 2022 - 2026.
Luxembourg Cooperation is participating in sectoral consultation frameworks and in the European Union's joint programming effort.
Evolution of activities in Niger (in thousand EUR)
Distribution of the 2022 disbursements by sector
All projects in Niger
NIG/023Support to the operationalisation of the education and training sector Programme
NIG/024Support to the national vocational training and professional insertion programme in Niger II
NIG/025Support programme for sustainable development in the Dosso region, Phase II
NIG/026Support Programme for the Water and Sanitation Sector – Phase III (SPWSS-3)
NIG/028Employment and employability