Children under 18 make up 58 per cent of the population of 21.5 million in Niger. Nearly half of its people live in poverty, and the nation consistently ranks near the bottom in the United Nations Human Development Index.
Poverty hits children the hardest. Around 48 per cent of children live under the monetary poverty line and 75 per cent of young children under the age of 5 are deprived from three or more essential social services.
Poor and vulnerable children carry the burden of disease, malnutrition, illiteracy and violence, abuse and exploitation. Harmful social norms and practices such as female genital mutilation and child marriage are also all too common, affecting adolescent girls in particular.
Growing up in the Nigerien context is not easy. The country itself faces great hurdles to its development: climate change that hinders rural development; vulnerability due to the absence of economic diversification; high population growth; gender inequality; low levels of literacy and education; and the size and landlocked nature of the country, which make it very difficult to provide essential goods and services to the population.
Nigeriens, and especially the most vulnerable such as children and women, are also heavily affected by the deteriorating security situation in the north-west and south-east parts of the country. Since 2011, extremist armed groups have been responsible for significant violence against civilians in the regions of Diffa and Tillaberi, and along the border with Mali in Tahoua region.