Niger has made remarkable progress in reducing mortality for children under five over the past decade. However, malnutrition and malaria – the main causes of childhood death – remain rife. We run targeted paediatric programmes, support community health workers and boost the capacity of public facilities, particularly during the 'hunger gap' between harvests, which coincides with the rainy season and malaria peak.
Niger, Burkina Faso and Mali share a border region in the Central Sahel where state and non-state groups operate in a context of poverty, climatic change, a fast-growing population and increasing competition over dwindling resources.
The southeast of Niger forms part of the Lake Chad Basin, where violence that began in Nigeria in 2009 has spread. This area was already extremely vulnerable due to social inequality, poverty, poor infrastructure and recurring drought.
We run health programmes throughout Niger. In 2020, responded to the COVID-19 pandemic in the country.
MSF supports community health workers in hundreds of villages throughout Niger. The community health workers are especially active during the peak malaria season and ensure early detection and treatment of simple malaria and screening for malnutrition.
Since 2015, people living in Diffa region, in the Lake Chad Basin, suffer the consequences of violent clashes between armed opposition groups in neighbouring Nigeria and the military forces in the region. We provide medical and mental health care for displaced communities at numerous health facilities in the region and run mobile clinics in hard-to-reach areas. In Agadez, in the north of Niger, we support local communities and migrants along the main migratory routes.
We are also at the frontlines of the responses to outbreaks in Niger. We hold annual vaccination campaigns against measles and meningitis if needed, and we respond to cholera outbreaks.
In Niger, we are supporting various healthcare centres and providing basic and specialised care to host and refugee communities, mainly in Tillabéri region. We are also running mobile clinics to provide medical and mental health consultations and distribute essential household items to refugees.
Major malnutrition peak in Maradi region
Every year from July to October, the combination of the hunger gap and rainy season triggers a spike in the number of children suffering from acute malnutrition and malaria in southern Niger.
This year, several factors could lead to an exceptionally severe seasonal peak amid dwindling donor funding dedicated to nutritional and paediatric programmes in the area.
Our activities in 2021 in Niger
Data and information from the International Activity Report 2021
In Zinder and Maradi regions, the combination of an early malaria peak and a poor agricultural season led to a significant increase in the number of children needing care. We also saw an unprecedented number of severely malnourished children coming across the border from Nigeria.
In Maradi, we tripled our intake capacity by launching two new emergency nutrition projects through inpatient and outpatient care in Aguie and Guidam Roumjdi districts, and stepped-up activities, including intensive therapeutic feeding and paediatric care, in Madarounfa district.
The security situation in Tillabéri region, which borders Mali and Burkina Faso, deteriorated in 2021. A spate of attacks on civilians led the region into a state of violence and internal displacement. To respond to the increased needs in Torodi, Banibangou and Ayorou districts, MSF recruited extra medical staff, conducted mobile clinics, rehabilitated the emergency unit and built a blood bank, an observation unit, and sterilisation and mental health consultation rooms.
In Diffa region, we ran community consultations to help reduce the workload on hospitals during malaria season, provided paediatric and obstetric care, mental health support and treatment for sexual violence.
The flow of migrants expelled from Algeria, in unofficial convoys arriving in Assamaka, did not decrease, despite tough anti-migration policies and border closures due to COVID-19. A toll-free number set up for migrants in transit continues to receive calls, and enables MSF teams to rescue migrants who have been tortured and dumped in the desert.
Throughout 2021, MSF supported the health authorities’ responses to epidemics and floods, and vaccination campaigns against measles, meningitis, cholera and polio.