Humanitarian needs in Niger continue to be significant due to persistent food insecurity, high undernutrition of children under age of five and forced displacement of hundreds of thousands people as a result of the Mali and Lake Chad crises. Even in good agricultural years, between four and five million people – who are already vulnerable - experience food shortages.
Niger faces five major crises: food insecurity, acute malnutrition, forced displacement from conflict, epidemics, and natural disasters, notably floods and droughts.
Successive food crises, extreme poverty, displacement, rapid population growth and increase in food staple prices continue to erode people’s resilience. Many Nigerien families, who are yet to recover from previous crises, are unable to cover their basic food needs. In 2018, 2.3 million people are in need of humanitarian assistance, representing a 21% increase from 2017. The government of Niger foresee that nearly 1.4 million people will be food insecure during the 2018 lean season. Also, the country faces recurrent epidemics of malaria, Hepatitis E, and meningitis.
The humanitarian situation has been exacerbated by the security crisis. The Boko Haram conflict in Nigeria has led to significant forced displacement in the Diffa region. It hosts more than 250 000 Nigerian refugees, internally displaced people and returnees. Their needs are food, nutrition, health, water and sanitation, and shelter. Access to those in need remains a challenge due to security constraints. The nutritional situation in the Diffa region has reached alarming levels. Global acute malnutrition exceeds the emergency threshold (15%) in all communities in the region. The spill-over of the conflict in Mali continues, with 55 892 Malian refugees and a number of internally displaced people in the regions of Tillaberry and Tahoua. Niger is also often affected by floods. In 2017 it affected 206 000 people.
The European Commission is among the largest donors providing life-saving and emergency aid in Niger.
In 2017, as violence escalated in northeast Nigeria, the European Commission stepped up its funding with €30 million to provide emergency assistance for refugees, internally displaced people and host communities in Niger’s remote region of Diffa. In 2018, the priority in the response will continue to focus on covering basic needs, such as food, shelter, health and nutrition, protection, water, sanitation and hygiene.
In 2018, the EU's humanitarian response will also continue to support the treatment and prevention of severe acute malnutrition for the most vulnerable populations. In addition, support will be provided to strengthen the emergency and response preparedness of communities and regional/national actors, in particular for food and nutrition crises. In 2017, the European Commission supported the treatment of over 143 000 children under five years old suffering from severe acute malnutrition, including those who fled violence in Nigeria and Mali. This approximately represents 40% of the total national caseload treated, estimated at 358 000.
Food assistance is provided mostly through cash and vouchers’ schemes. Complementary nutritional food rations are provided to 6-23 months old children and pregnant or breastfeeding women from very poor and vulnerable households. In 2017, the European Union provided assistance to 115 000 people, which represents almost 10% of those most in need.
The medical partners of the European Commission’s Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations department provide emergency treatment for the biggest lethal diseases, such as malaria, diarrhoea, and respiratory tract infections. Health and nutrition services are integrated in the country’s health care system and are provided in close collaboration with national health care workers.