Niger Facts

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How much do you know about Niger?


The Republic of Niger is a landlocked country in Western Africa about the size of France, named after the Niger River - over 80 percent covered by the Sahara desert. It borders Nigeria and Benin to the south, Burkina Faso and Mali to the west, Algeria and Libya to the north and Chad to the east. Niger's population hovers around 19 million people.

The official language is French, but there are about 20 indigenous languages, reflecting the wide variety of ethnic groups, including Hausa, Zarma-Sonrai, Tuareg, Fula, Kanuri Manga, Tubu, Arab and Gourmantche people. RAIN works primarily with nomadic and semi-nomadic Tuareg and Wodaabe people of the norther Agadez and southern Tillaberi regions.

The United Nations Development Fund frequently lists Niger in the bottom five countries on the Human Development Index (HDI). The HDI measures three dimensions of human development: living a long and healthy life, access to education, and overall standard of living. The average person in Niger is less educated, lives a shorter life, is less likely to be literate or enrolled in school and has less income than the average person in any other country on earth.

The economy is subsistence based, with some export of agriculture and raw materials, especially uranium ore. Niger faces serious challenges to development due to its landlocked position, desert terrain, poor education and poverty, lack of infrastructure, poor health care, and environmental degradation. Rainfall varies and when it is insufficient, Niger has difficulty feeding its population. Frequent drought results in nomadic families losing entire herds of sheep, cattle and camels.

Despite such hardship, the nomadic women, men and children who partner with RAIN are inspired, motivated and hardworking. They love their desert home and their lives abound with family love, generosity and good humor.

2015 Niger Rankings for the UN Categories 

Life Expectancy

61.9 years

US is 78.8

Average Adult Literacy Rate

19% (27.3% for males, 11% females)

 World is 86%

School Enrollment Ratio for Secondary School


2nd Lowest in the World

Per Capita GNI


Nigeria is $3203/yr

Fertility Rate

Over 7.6

Highest in the World

While statistics for Niger are achingly low, they are worse for the nomadic and rural peoples who comprise 85% of the total population.  For example, both adult literacy rates among nomadic families is estimated to be only 10%-15%.

Women and children in Niger

Women and children suffer the most.  Women in Niger do not fare well; their opportunities for self-improvement and autonomy are few. They earn less than men, and only a third of the literate people in Niger are women. Niger leads the world in early marriage and population growth rate. 

The average girl in Niger drops out of school after only three years.

Each additional year of school that a girl receives results in her having .26 less children over her lifetime - enabling her to lead a healthier, more productive life.

RAIN in Niger

RAIN is directly partnering with nomadic communities to bring about grassroots solutions to these many challenges. Women mentors keep at-risk girls succeeding in school, school and community market gardens create food security and ensure access to education, and enterprise and credit opportunities open paths to new livelihoods. Visit Our Work to see how RAIN is making an impact in Niger.

About RAIN

The Tuareg call themselves many names, including "Kel Tamasheq" (Speakers of Tamasheq), "Imazaghan" (The Free People), and "Kel Tagelmust" (People of the Veil).
Did you know
Great Nonprofits Global Giving Shop for Taureg and Wodaabe made Goods Ebay Giving 1% For the Planet

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RAIN for the Sahel and Sahara is a nonprofit 501(c)3 working to make a lasting difference in Africa.

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