Strong population growth
Sustainable development progress is massively hampered by the extremely high rate of population growth of about 3.8 per cent a year. Between 2002 and 2020, the population doubled, going from 12 million inhabitants to 24 million. The country’s economic achievements are not enough to provide good opportunities for the future for the young population that is growing so rapidly. Each year about 400,000 more young people need jobs, services and food.
According to World Bank data, almost a third of the children under the age of five are underweight. The illiteracy rate among adults is 65 per cent. Rural areas in particular suffer from a lack of schools and qualified teaching staff. School enrolment rates have increased steadily in the last decade. But roughly one third of schoolchildren drop out of school before completing six years of primary school.
Barely half of the population has access to clean drinking water; only about 16 per cent has adequate sanitation, and health services are inadequate. Despite a sharp reduction in infant mortality as a result of targeted vaccination campaigns, in 2019, 80 out of every 1,000 children were still dying before they reached the age of five. At 62.4 years, average life expectancy is low (compared to 80.9 years in Germany).
The Niger has ratified all the important international human rights conventions. Basic civil rights are also laid down in the country’s constitution. However, there are many areas where national legislation has yet to catch up with these commitments.
Women are underrepresented in both politics and civil society organisations in the Niger. They are socially and economically disadvantaged, for example as regards access to education or earning their own money. In the Niger, the majority of girls are married while they are still underage.