Significant humanitarian needs in Niger persist due to food insecurity, high undernutrition of children and forced displacement of hundreds of thousands of people resulting from the Mali regional and Lake Chad crises. Even in good agricultural years, between 4 and 5 million vulnerable people experience food shortages. With a severe food and nutrition crisis affecting millions of people, 2018 is a particularly difficult year for the Sahel region.
Niger is the second lowest ranking country in the 2016 UN’s Development report and faces five major crises: food insecurity, acute malnutrition, displacement from conflict, epidemics, and natural disasters (such as floods and droughts). Many Nigerien families, set back from previous crises, are unable to cover their basic food needs. In 2018, 2.3 million people are in need of humanitarian assistance, a 21 percent increase from 2017.
The conflict in northeast Nigeria has led to significant forced displacement. The Diffa region in the southeast of Niger hosts more than 250 000 Nigerian refugees, internally displaced people and returnees, all of whom need food, nutrition, health, protection, water and sanitation, and shelter. The nutritional situation in Diffa has reached alarming levels; more than 10 percent of all children in the communities of this region bordering Nigeria and Chad are undernourished. The delivery of humanitarian aid remains a challenge due to security constraints.
The spill over of the conflict in Mali continues, with 58 500 Malian refugees and 30 000 internally displaced people.
Niger is also often affected by floods, which in 2017 affected 206 000 people.
The European Union is among the largest humanitarian donors providing life-saving and emergency aid in Niger.
In 2017, the European Union 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 EU response continues to prioritisecovering basic needs, including food, health, water, protection, and shelter.
The EU's humanitarian response also supports the prevention and treatment of severe acute malnutrition the most severe and life-threatening form of undernutrition. In 2017, the European Union supported the treatment of over 143 000 children under five years old who were severely malnutritioned, including children who are part of refugee groups living in Niger after fleeing violence in Nigeria and Mali. This represents approximately 40% of the total number of children receiving nutrition treatment in the country.
In addition, the EU provides support to strengthen the preparedness of communities and authorities to respond to emergencies, in particular food and nutrition crises.
Food assistance is provided mostly through cash and vouchers’ schemes. People receive either cash via their mobile phones or vouchers to spend on food in local shops. The population groups who are most at risk – children between six and 23 months and pregnant or breastfeeding women from very vulnerable households - receive a complementary nutrient-rich food ration. In 2017, the EU provided assistance to 115 000 people, which represents almost 10 percent of those most in need.
The health partners of the European Union’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.
EU aid also enables humanitarian access to those in need, by funding the United Nations Humanitarian Air Service (UNHAS).