Major problems facing Niger today

Niger girlNiger or the Republic of Niger lies on the southern edge of the Sahara Desert landlocked between Nigeria at the South and Algeria at the North. Niger has a land area of about 1270000 squared kilometers and a population of about 15.5 million people.

About 80% of the total land area of Niger is covered by the Sahara desert and the desert keeps spreading chasing farmers away from their farm lands. Majority of the Niger population live in rural areas and are mostly subsistence farmers who grow crops (mainly millet) and rear animals (mostly cattle, sheep and goats) just to feed themselves and their families. Majority of the Niger population live on less than a dollar a day.

 According to the new UNDP Human development multidimensional poverty Index MPI developed by Oxford University, Niger is the poorest country in the world with about 91 percent of the population living below poverty line. The multidimensional poverty index views poverty from several different angles rather than just the normal GDP figures used in ranking countries.

The Multidimensional poverty index takes several factors into consideration. Factors such as Hunger or starvation, sanitation, health care, normal household income, family size, Illiteracy rate , number of schools, number of children enrolled in schools, the quality of education, Agriculture, social development, the government and the economic status, and of course the usual GDP figures from world bank.

Because of it's position on the map, Niger faces several natural challenges such as drought, desertification and most recently, floods. Desertification (the spreading of the Sahara Desert) is driving Farmers off their farm lands. Nothing grows well on the desert so as the Sahara desert spreads and covers the fertile/farming lands, most farmers are left with nothing but absolute poverty.

The harsh weather conditions in Niger are unpredictable. Just a few months ago there was a severe drought that lead many people with nothing at all to eat. Just after the drought there was a major flooding that destroyed many farms.

Because of extreme poverty and hunger, most children of school-going age are out of school in Niger and the illiteracy rate in Niger is at all time high.

Drinking water and water for domestic purposes is another major challenge people in Niger face every single day. Because of the desert, water is very scarce in Niger. The few water sources in Niger are mostly polluted which accounts for the high level of diseases such as cholera, dysentery, bilharzia, etc. in Niger today.