Humanitarian needs in Niger continue to be immense as a result of lasting food insecurity, high global malnutrition of children under age five and the displacement of people fleeing the conflicts in Mali and Nigeria. Even in good agricultural years, between 4 and 5 million people experience food shortages. The situation further deteriorated in 2015, with the spill-over of the conflict in Nigeria leading to increasing numbers of displaced and refugee populations in the Diffa region.
In Niger, successive food crises, extreme poverty, displacement and rapid population growth continue to erode people’s resilience. In spite of positive agricultural outcomes since 2014, the effects of those protracted food crises are still felt this year by the most vulnerable households. Many Nigerien families, who are yet to recover from previous crises, are unable to cover their basic food needs. It is estimated that 1.8 million people will require emergency food assistance, which is twice the 2016 figure.
Regarding malnutrition, 309 175 children under five suffer from severe acute malnutrition. Without essential support, it is estimated that more than 100 000 children could die from malnutrition each year. Cases of meningitis have been reported in six regions of the country.
The conflict with Boko Haram in Nigeria has led to the displacement of more than 300 000 refugees, internally displaced persons (IDPs) and returnees in Diffa region. Their most pressing needs are food, nutrition, health, water and sanitation, and shelter. Access to those in need, especially those living out of camps near Lake Chad, remains a challenge due to security constraints and limitations entailed by the state of emergency. The conflict in Mali continues to have consequences in Niger, which hosts 55 892 Malian refugees.
The European Commission is among the largest donors providing life-saving and emergency aid in Niger. In 2016, it supported the treatment of over 265 000 children under five years old suffering from severe acute malnutrition, including those who fled violence in Nigeria and Mali. This represents approximately 70% of the total national caseload treated, estimated at 400 000.
The EU's humanitarian response also goes to the prevention of severe acute malnutrition in the most vulnerable regions. Food assistance is provided mostly through cash and vouchers’ schemes associated with complementary nutritional food rations to children from 6-23 months old as well as pregnant and breastfeeding women from very poor and vulnerable households.
The medical partners of the European Commission’s Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations department also provide treatment for the biggest lethal diseases, such as malaria, diarrhoea and respiratory tract infections. These health and nutrition services are integrated in the country’s health care system and provided in close collaboration with national health care workers.
As violence escalates in north-eastern Nigeria, the European Commission has stepped up its funding to guarantee emergency assistance for refugees, displaced people and the households hosting them in the remote region of Diffa by allocating around €20 million to this region. Monitoring of the situation in the west of the country (Tillabery and Tahoua) also remains a priority, as the evolution of the security situation in northern Mali is still very fragile and volatile.
The EU has also supported the population affected by massive flooding in 2017 with €400 000 in humanitarian assistance.