Niger has been facing multiple humanitarian crises as a result of structural and cyclical causes. This has increased the vulnerability of millions of people who were already struggling with poverty. In 2019, it is estimated that 2.3 million people will require humanitarian assistance, amounting to 10.4 per cent of the population of Niger.
Today, the humanitarian community is requesting US$383 million to provide 1.6 million of the most vulnerable people with much needed aid.
Intercommunal violence aggravates an already fragile situation. “Women and children are the first victims of this violence and suffer major trauma” said the Humanitarian Coordinator for Niger, Fatoumata Bintou Djibo. “Despite a significant improvement in the situation in the region of Diffa, there is no prospect of return for displaced families at the moment.”
The triennal strategy will not just address the most immediate needs, but will also put the basis for longer-term recovery of the most vulnerable communities and help them withstand future shocks. “This year's humanitarian strategy aims to achieve three overarching strategic goals over a three-year period,” Ms. Bintou Djibo said, “focused on strengthening the protection of the vulnerable civilian population, emergency response to save lives, improving lives and living conditions and the restoration and strengthening of livelihoods”.
On top of ongoing insecurity, Niger continues to struggle with five main challenges:
1. Food insecurity
A man shows the fruit of the millet harvest. Credit: OCHA/Ivo Brandau
About 1.5 million people will require food assistance in 2019. Humanitarian partners are aiming to provide both food assistance and agricultural support to not just save lives but also provide people with the means to withstand shocks in areas affected by crises.
Credit: OCHA/Ivo Brandau
Approximately 1.8 million people will need nutritional assistance in 2019 – of whom over 380,000 children under the age of 5 are suffering from severe acute malnutrition, and close to 304,000 pregnant and lactating women are at risk of malnutrition. The response will require US$76 million to meet the nutritional needs of 1.2 million people, particularly children.
UN Humanitarian Chief Mark Lowcock speaks with a group of displaced women and men affected by the conflict to listen to their concerns. Credit: OCHA/Ivo Brandau
Insecurity, conflict and instability in neighboring countries are creating multifaceted population movements in almost all parts of Niger. These movements are more pronounced in the regions of Diffa (120,000 refugees, 104,000 IDPs and nearly 26,000 returnees), Tillabéri (100,000 IDPs, nearly 38,000 refugees) and Tahoua (50,000 IDPs and nearly 18,000 refugees). IOM estimates that 17,000 returnees from Libya and Algeria and 20,000 migrants will transit through Niger in 2019. All these people will also need assistance – shelter, food, clean water, health support.
4. Natural disasters
Credit: OCHA/Franck Kuwonu
The country is hit by severe floods every year, further increasing the vulnerabilities of people already living in precarious conditions. As a result of above-average rainfall in 2018, Niger experienced severe flooding. As of 30 September 2018, more than 208,000 people were directly affected by floods. It is estimated that by 2019, about 170,000 people may need assistance. Humanitarian partners will support government’s efforts to implement risk reduction programs, including the construction and fortification of protective dikes and the cleaning of gutters.
5. Disease outbreaks
IDP reception sites are often lacking adequate hygiene systems. Credit: OCHA/Federica Gabellini
Humanitarian partners fear that the spread of epidemics will worsen in 2019 due to aggravating factors such as population movements, floods, food insecurity, the increase in the number of unvaccinated people, inadequate access to social health services, and poor hygiene systems at the IDP reception sites. The response planned this year will focus on improving people’s access to health services; prevention, preparation and response to potential epidemics; and strengthening national capacity to better cope with future shocks.
The 2018 Humanitarian Response Plan remained severely underfunded. Of the US$338.3 million requested last year, only US$176.3 were received, leaving a 48 per cent funding gap. "I want to believe that the international and national solidarity will be more than ever appointments to achieve our goals and results expected in 2019."