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.
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 2022 in Niger
Data and information from the International Activity Report 2022.
In 2022, our teams carried out mass vaccination campaigns, distributed drinking water and relief items, such as hygiene and cooking kits, constructed shelters, and ran mobile clinics for displaced people in Diffa and Tillabéri regions.
In the second half of the year, Niger was hit by devastating floods, which affected hundreds of thousands of people. As well as running mobile clinics and distributing relief items to displaced people, we helped boost bed capacity in Niamey Regional Hospital.
We also supported the health authorities’ responses to outbreaks of measles and meningitis in the Zinder, Diffa and Tahoua regions. During the peak malaria period, due to the exceptionally high number of patients requiring inpatient care in Magaria, we constructed two observation rooms in Tinkim and Yékoua health centres.
In Madarounfa district, we provide care for children with sickle cell disease, which includes vaccinations, antibiotics to prevent and treat infections, pain medications and blood transfusions. In 2022, to better prevent and manage severe complications of the disease, we introduced treatment with hydroxyurea, a drug listed by the World Health Organization as essential for haemoglobin diseases in children but still difficult to access in Niger.
In addition, we offered medical and nutrition care to children with malnutrition, malaria and other childhood diseases in Madarounfa Hospital and five health areas in Maradi. As a result of our partnership with the health authorities and the World Food Programme, dedicated to treating children with moderate acute malnutrition, the number of hospital admissions for malnutrition was the lowest in four years.
The two-way flow of migrants over the Niger-Algeria border continued unabated in 2022. Thousands were deported by the Algerian authorities and stranded in the desert. MSF denounced the inhumane treatment of migrants expelled from Algeria and Libya and called on authorities to take immediate measures to respect human dignity in border control.