Our work in Niger

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Our work in Niger

Concern Worldwide has been working in Niger since 2003 when it established a primary school education programme in Tahoua region. In 2018, we mark 15 years in Niger.

Programme overview

Niger is vulnerable to high levels of food insecurity, illness - including endemic malaria – and poor access to services, water, and sanitation. Consecutive food, nutritional, and pastoral crises have affected much of the Nigerien population over the last twenty years, jeopardizing the lives of millions of people who are already chronically food insecure. The face of poverty in Niger is over-whelming feminine. It is characterized by a lack of gender equity, and unequal power dynamics, which limit a woman’s decision-making power at all levels. Concern has adopted a context-based programme approach to address the multidimensional nature of extreme poverty and tackle the specific barriers that confront the extreme poor. 

Our work covers the Regions of Tahoua in the North central of the country, Diffa along the border with Nigeria in the south east of Niger and Tillaberi to the west along the border with Burkina Faso and Mali. 

Farmer Abdourahimoune Adamou, 43 and his teenage sons Zaidou and Siraji at work on the land they farm every day. Photo: Chris de Bode/Panos Pictures for Concern Worldwide

Building resilience and Addressing Gender Equality

Our integrated ‘Wadate Al’umna’ programme aims to build the resilience of the extreme poor to climate shocks in the Tahoua region. It focuses on reducing biases and inequalities faced by the extreme poor and vulnerable, particularly women and girls; improving access to quality health, nutrition, education and WASH services; and enhancing livelihood systems, natural resource management and environmental protection. All of these components are necessary in building the resilience of the most vulnerable to not only combat longer-term poverty but also to cope with the cyclical annual hunger gap season.

One of the key components is to ensure that vulnerable groups are included, and that men and women of all ages are able to participate in accordance with their needs and capacities.  Measures are being established where women, girls and other marginalized community members have “safe spaces”, in order for them to feel comfortable and safe in expressing themselves, ensuring their voices are heard and reflected in decisions. An important part of this is to facilitate intergenerational dialogue around community and gender issues which equitably engage men, women, girls, and boys.

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Access to quality education

Niger suffers from one of the lowest literacy rates in the world, particularly among girls. According to UNESCO, the average Nigerien has only had 1.4 years of education in their lifetime.

Our education programme focuses on improving the capacity and ability of teachers and schools to provide a quality education through curriculum development, resource development, and teacher training. It aims to strengthen the management structures and processes for schools, with effective representation and input from community and government stakeholders and to put in place structures and processes to protect and promote the well-being of primary school children. A particular focus is placed on girls and children from extremely poor households who find it difficult to engage in education. Some innovative approaches have been adopted, including the promotion of mother tongue (Hausa) based bilingual education, and the use of video technology for training purposes at educational authority, teacher training college, and school levels. 

Concern has also been responding to the Education needs of IDPs, refugees and returnees in Diffa since 2016 and in Tillaberi since 2018. Activities focus on Ensuring equitable access to quality education and on the quality of school learning through teacher training.  

Health and nutrition

Concern’s health and nutrition programme in Niger is two pronged – one that focuses on resilience, and the other on preventing chronic under nutrition. In partnership with the Ministry of Health, these interventions emphasise strengthening the health system by providing technical support (training, coaching and supervision) and logistics support (drugs, therapeutic food and equipment) for the delivery of quality maternal and child-health services in government health facilities. They also focus on improving preventive and care-seeking behaviours as well as child-feeding practices at a community and household level. The community is mobilised through a network of volunteers who carry out public awareness and education activities. 

In order to manage the seasonal peaks in under nutrition, Concern has also been implementing a Community Management of Acute Malnutrition (CMAM) ‘Surge’ approach in Tahoua. This approach is designed to make health systems more resilient to the shocks and stresses that regular surges in the demand for treatment services of acute malnutrition present. We work closely with government structures to implement this approach, in line with Niger’s National Nutrition Programme Plan, which will be scaled up in 2018.

Lake Chad Basin Crisis

Due to protracted crisis in Diffa region, one out of every two people are displaced. The influx and harsh local conditions have placed the refugees, returnees and the local population in an extremely vulnerable situation. Diffa region is chronically deficient in rain-fed agriculture production, which results in the chronic vulnerability of the population in Diffa. As such, agriculture, livestock and trade, which are the main sources of income for households, have been deeply affected. Prior to the crisis, the Diffa region had the lowest enrolment rates in the country and this situation has further worsened following the closure of more than 150 schools since violence erupted on Nigerien soil. 

Concern’s work in Diffa focuses on an Education in Emergencies response, Cash for Work activities, and rebuilding livelihoods.

The Education in Emergencies project in Diffa was scaled up in 2017, from six schools to 20 schools across the communes of Diffa, Chétimari and Maïné Soroa, reaching 5,500 children. 

In 2017, Concern piloted a Cash for Work intervention coupled with the distribution of agricultural inputs to allow extremely vulnerable households who do not have access to land and had limited access to water to produce vegetables close to their home using kitchen sack gardens. This proved successful as it provided households with a minimum of five months food supply and a seven month supply of fresh vegetables. This was implemented both in Tahoua and in Diffa.

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