Africare’s History in Niger
Niger is the country where Africare began, in 1970, amidst one of the worst droughts in West African history. The first work, from emergency medical aid to “cloud seeding,” sought to provide drought relief. Almost immediately, Africare also introduced self-help development projects at the village level — and those have characterized the work in Niger, as in most other countries, ever since. More than 50 assistance projects have benefited communities in Niger in the basic developmental areas of food, water, the environment and health. In the village of Tara, an early Africare “integrated rural development” project supported large-scale irrigated rice production, with related forms of assistance such as the establishment of agricultural co-ops and the construction of farm-to-market roads.
Africare-Niger is presently implementing a 17 million dollar USAID funded food security project in Tillaberi, Agadez and Tahoua. The sectors covered are: Food security and agriculture, Management of Natural Resources, Health & Nutrition, Micro Credit (for women), Community Radio and Professional Training for young women.
Country Profile: Niger
REGION: West Africa
CAPITAL CITY: Niamey
LAND AREA: 1,266,700 sq km (757,091 sq miels)
Niger is predominantly desert: 80 percent of the country lies within the Sahara. The southern 20 percent is savannah, with a largely agrarian and subsistence-based economy – and recurring drought. Environmental destruction is a major concern as the desert encroaches southward. Struggling to eke consistent amounts of food from dwindling hectares of arable land, farmers unwittingly compound the damage by overfarming, overgrazing and thereby reducing soil fertility still more. Today, 11 percent of Niger’s land is arable. In 2005, locust infestations added to the effects of drought, resulting in food shortage among some 2.5 million Nigeriens. Niger also has high rates of ill health, illiteracy, hunger and poverty. According to the U.N. Development Program’s 2007/2008 Human Development Index, Niger is the fourth least developed country in the world.
Life expectancy: 55.8 years (USA: 77.9)
Under-5 child mortality: 253/1,000 live births (USA: 7/1,000)
HIV prevalence, ages 15-49: [0.6 – 1.1]% (USA: [0.4 – 1.0]%)
Physicians per 100,000 people: 2 (USA: 256)
People undernourished: 32% (USA: 0%)
People with access to safe drinking water: 46% (USA: 100%)
Adult literacy: 28.7% (USA: 99%)
Gross National income per capita : $781 (USA: $41,890)
People living on less than $1 a day: 60.6% (USA: 0%)
(HIV prevalence statistics, UNAIDS. All other statistics, 2007/2008 Human Development Report, UNDP)
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