Child Malnutrition on the Rise in Niger

Almost half a million children under five in Niger, an impoverished nation north of Nigeria, are acutely malnourished. That figure represents 17 percent of Niger’s population under five years old, and marks a 42 percent increase over last year. 

The UN’s World Health Organization (WHO) considers a malnutrition rate of more than 15 percent to be a critical emergency.

As reported by IRIN news service, this discouraging news comes from a Niger government study conducted in May and June with support from the United Nations and nongovernmental organizations. 

According to the study, poor harvests in the last few years are a contributing factor; with no intervention, more children are likely to go hungry before the fall harvest.

Grim Statistics
The government survey paints a bleak picture: In all but one region, children under three are twice as likely to suffer from acute malnutrition than older children are. Hardest hit regions are Diffa, Maradi, Zinder and Tahoua. Acute severe malnutrition is at 3.2 percent, up from 2.1 percent last year. The mean fatality rate for children afflicted with severe acute malnutrition is 30 to 50 percent. 

Niger’s children are also plagued with under-nutrition. About half of them are chronically undernourished, the same portion as in 2009.  In the region of Zinder, six out of ten children do not eat enough on a daily basis to engage in natural physical activity. In the capital of Niamey, 17 percent of children are undernourished.

Serving Children in Difficult Areas of the World
Statistics about child hunger in countries like Niger seem overwhelming, but organizations on the ground are doing what they can. SOS Children’s Villages has been in Niger since 1993 with two Villages — one in the capital of Niamey and one in Tahoua, about 330 miles northeast of Niamey. A third Children’s Village — in Dosso, where economic emigrants going to work in other African countries often return HIV-positive — is under construction.

In a landscape of extreme poverty and widespread HIV/AIDS, SOS Children’s Villages provides a safe, loving refuge for Niger’s most vulnerable children who lack parental care. In addition, SOS kindergartens, schools, and clinics are open to the local population; these places are points of hope for children who have little. Through its family strengthening program, SOS offers AIDS-prevention counselling and works in other ways to stabilize households.

To learn more, please visit SOS Children’s Villages.


photo credit: SOS Children's Villages

By Kyna Rubin from SOS Children's Villages


William C
William C23 days ago

I'm sorry that this is happening, thanks for the information.

W. C
W. C24 days ago

Thank you for caring.

Aisha Okudi
Aisha Okudi6 years ago

I can say that instead of talking about it lets do somthing about it.I have a deep passion for this country.I dont wait on the goverment,we as people have to take a stand and jump in where the system wont.I dont know about you but i know that i am called for a purpose to go where most people wont go because of the fear of no return or whatever it may be we talk about it and little gets done when we are all they got,If you have a gift plesae share it around the world and go be the feet and hands that can give.We are rich consider to them we are blessed to just have what we do have give it away and i tell you it will come back to you more than you can maintain.

Erin R.
Erin R7 years ago

How sad! :-(

Kristol B.
Kristol B7 years ago

Thanks for bringing this issue to people's attention. It is a very desperate situation in west africa. I have been running a petition urging National Governments, including the Australian Government to contribute further funds to the World Food Programme so that they can provide for this food emergency. Go to to sign the petition and to find out what else people can do to help with the food crisis in Niger

Michele C.
Michele C7 years ago

Children should not have to starve to death... in any country.

Moertl M.
Martha M7 years ago

To Hugh W. : Why turn back to the beginning of the sixties ? Perhaps, if the French were still there Niger would be a "paradise" compared to now.
What happens now in some african countries is that the Chinese buy land, which was used for cattle before, to exploit it at their fashion and introduce or increase hunger in these countries. Of course, the politicians do everything for money but not in the sens to help their poor.

Hugh W.
.7 years ago

To Rosemary, Niger is not short for Nigeria. Niger is a separate country north of Nigeria. It has completely different climates, population, resources and many different cultures. You are correct that Nigeria has had a lot of oil spills, probably more than the Exxon Valdez and the BP Oil spill combined, but no one will make those known to the general public. Niger has not experienced the oil spills yet, but I am sure they will once the Chinese start drilling.
Unfortunately Niger is a beautiful country with a lot of wonderful people. I wish it was in the news for something good rather than bad harvests or a president that wouldn’t leave office. There is much more to Niger than hunger and some bad people in their government. There are bad people in every country’s government.

Hugh W.
.7 years ago

First of all, there are a few corrections to some of the previous comments made. Remember doing research is key before making statements, particularly generalizations about things which people have no experience. To Anja N, the country may have many of these resources, but the government or some other large business needs to be able to extract these resources. In the case of uranium, the French have been exploiting the Nigeriens for at least 40 years and paying them far less for their extraction than the fair market price. Areva, the French company is responsible for radiation leaking into water supplies in the North. Luckily the previous president renegotiated the price of uranium which is of a greater benefit to Niger. As for oil, that is a more recent thing and Niger has not yet seen the rewards or other effects from the oil. We have to look back to history to remember that France ruled Niger until 1960. The French have also more subtlely continued to greatly influence/exploit Niger’s government for decades afterwards. Without the experience, knowledge and finances, Niger will have a difficult time benefitting from these resources. Other Western companies will come in and exploit them. It is how it has always been. So, now maybe you have a clue why they ask so much from the Exploitative G8. And as for the unrelated comments about animals, could you give some factual details or do you just like general fabrications?

Lyn Redbird
Lyn henry7 years ago

It's important that we feed these children but it's of the ultimate importance we educate the adults about safe sex; both in preventing HIV and preventing pregnancies. Sterilization may be the only thing left to do if all else fails. You cant' force education on people unless they are willing to learn from it.