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Why is Niger so badly funded?

This week I found out that Niger is one of the country’s in sub-Saharan Africa that receives the least overseas development aid.

To put this into perspective Ethiopia receives six times more overseas development aid than Niger.

Undoubtedly it is one of the poorest countries in the world – it often ranks at the bottom of the Human Development Index. I can reel off all the depressing statistics that puts it there:

  • more than 60% of the population lives in severe poverty
  • one in six children die before their fifth birthday
  • one in seven women die in or as a consequence of childbirth

It has the highest birth rate in the world. But more than 40% of children still don’t have access to education giving Niger one of the worst literacy rates in the world. The list goes on…

So surely if Niger is regularly ranked at the bottom in all development criteria this should mean it needs more of our help? It’s unjust that children are still dying from conditions the world knows how to cure. Surely what it needs is strong overseas development aid to help it climb the ladder and make some changes to these statistics – and the lives behind them? Isn’t this what world leaders promised in 2000 as part of the Millennium Development Goals?

Niger is a relatively stable country. There’s no war here and no long history of conflict. This gives it a strong platform to build on and, with increased investment from donors, sustainable development is possible. Many thousands of lives can be saved and children can be given a future.

Why then is it not a priority country for a number of donor governments and why does it receive such a small amount of overseas development aid? Can someone out there explain it to me?

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