In Niger, one in six children die before their fifth birthday, and the country’s child mortality rate is the 11th highest in the world. 66% of the country’s population live below the poverty line (US$1.25 a day).

May 2012 update: Niger is now facing a potentially deadly food crisis brought on by crop shortages, rising food prices and insecurity in neighbouring countries. We've launched an emergency appeal to help save children's lives there.

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Key facts

  • 120,000 children die before their fifth birthday every year.

  • We helped 550,000 children to survive the 2010 food crisis – at the peak of the crisis, we treated 50,000 severely malnourished children.

  • We are working with the government to strengthen early warning systems, ever more important as Niger faces another food emergency in 2012.

The challenges

Even before disaster strikes, Niger’s children are in danger.

It has one of the worst child mortality rates in the world, with 120,000 children dying each year before they turn five. Half these deaths are linked to malnutrition.

In 2010, the numbers of children at risk skyrocketed as erratic and poor rains caused crops to fail. In July, at the height of the crisis, 400,000 children were in danger of starvation, with more than 7 million Nigeriens at risk.

Families withdrew their children from school, sold off household belongings and rationed themselves to one meal a day.

We helped more than half a million children survive the crisis. Today, even though the worst is over, half of all children are chronically malnourished, while acute malnutrition remains at critical levels.

What we’ve achieved

We work in six districts with an integrated programme of health, nutrition and protection, delivering change for those most in need.

Keeping children alive

Through our support for 260 health centres, we are helping to provide access to free care for more than 500,000 children and 200,000 pregnant women. Our efforts, along with those of other charities and the government, have helped to reduce child mortality substantially, making Niger one of the few sub-Saharan African countries on track to achieve MDG 4. Read more

Fighting malnutrition

We support 90 government health centres and five stabilization clinics. In the first half of 2011, we treated more than 40,000 malnourished children, trained 1,200 volunteers to help identify and prevent malnutrition, and worked with the government to improve its emergency system for a quicker response to rising rates of malnutrition. Find out more

A decent living

We’ve helped more than 30,000 households recover from the food crisis. In Maradi and Zinder, both hard-hit, we’ve given two goats each to poor households – just one of many ways we help people make a living. Read more

What’s urgent now

Rainfall was poor again in 2011. We are watching closely to see if an emergency develops and helping families prepare for the lean season, likely to start early this year.

We have a chance now to reduce the impact on children by being prepared. We’re working with health centres so that staff know how to treat malnutrition. We’re supporting community gardens for the poorest families, so that they meet at least 90% of their caloric needs.

Over the next three years we’ll help Niger get closer to achieving the Millennium Development Goals. And we’ll be protecting children living on the street and those who are neglected and abused.

In a country where violence and exploitation of children are common and government protection systems are largely nonexistent, our new protection work is vital.

Find out how you can help

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