Social Context for the Extractive Industries in Niger

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Development Indicators

The extractive industries in Niger exist against a backdrop of poverty. The country consistently sits in the lowest ranks of the United Nations Human Development Index.[1] Despite this low ranking, the World Bank suggest that Niger’s social indicators improved significantly between 1990 and 2010. Gross primary school enrolment rate increased from about 29 percent in the early 1990s to 76 percent in 2011. The mortality rate for children under 5 has decreased from 320 to 130 per thousand between 1990 and 2010. However, with one of the lowest gross domestic product (GDP) per capita levels in Africa, and one of the fastest growing populations in the world, poverty and inequality remain serious problems.[2]

The table below outlines some of the development indicators for Niger:[2]

Indicator Score (Year)
Gross Domestic Product (GDP) US$ 5,548,814,098 (2010)
GDP per capita US$ 358 (2010)
Population 15,512,000 (2010)
Life Expectancy 54 (2010)
Primary School Enrollment 71% (2011)
Access to Drinking Water 49% (2010)

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) suggested in 2011 that higher natural resource revenues will improve Niger's fiscal and external position. They put forward the case that resources earnings could be "leveraged into faster growth and poverty reduction" if managed correctly.[3]

Food Crisis

Niger has regularly faced problems of famine and drought.[4] In late 2011 and early 2012 Niger was facing serious food insecurity with 6 million people at risk of famine.[5] The factors behind the food crisis are a combination of environmental forces such as drought and desertification along with socio-economic trends such as soaring food prices, population growth and returning migrants.[5]

The World Food Programme say that agriculture has typically been the main driver of growth for Niger’s economy, with 82 percent of the population relying on farming. Malnutrition rates in Niger are relatively high, with 44 percent of children under five suffering from chronic malnutrition.[6]

Social factors are worsening the food crisis - Niger has the world's fastest population growth rate at 3.69 percent per year.[7] Equally, the families of 90,000 Nigerien migrants forced home because of the uprising in Libya faced greater hunger and poverty because they no longer receive regular remittances, the International Organisation of Migration (IOM) said in October 2011.[8]

Although the International Monetary Fund predict that agriculture's relative contribution to growth will fall in the mid-term (2011-2016)[9], it remains a key socio-economic component in light of the recurrent problems of drought and desertification.[4]


  1. "Niger: Country Profile" United Nations Development Programme, retrieved 24 April 2012.
  2. 2.0 2.1 "Niger: Country Brief" World Bank, retrieved 24 April 2012.
  3. "Oil, Uranium Projects Brighten Medium-term Prospects in Niger" International Monetary Fund, retrieved 26 April 2012.
  4. 4.0 4.1 "Food Distribution Begins in Drought-Inflicted Niger" The Christian Reformed World Relief Committee, retrieved 24 April 2012.
  5. 5.0 5.1 "Famine isn't an extreme event, it's the predictable result of a broken system" The Guardian, retrieved 24 April 2012.
  6. "Niger: Overview" World Food Programme, retrieved 26 April 2012.
  7. "Communities contending with crisis in Niger" The Guardian, retrieved 24 April 2012.
  8. "Niger migrants' return from Libya plunges families deeper into hunger" Alert Net, retrieved 26 April 2012.
  9. "Niger: 2011 Article IV Consultation" International Monetary Fund, retrieved 18 April 2012.