Niger, Burkina Faso, and Mali share a border region in the central Sahel where state and non-state groups operate against a backdrop of high levels of poverty, climate change, rapid population growth, and increased competition for dwindling resources.
Southeastern Niger is part of the Lake Chad Basin, where violence that began in Nigeria in 2009 spread. The region was already extremely vulnerable due to social inequalities, poverty, poor infrastructure and recurrent droughts. MSF runs health programmes throughout Niger.
Niger has made remarkable progress in reducing under-five mortality over the past decade, but malnutrition and malaria – the leading causes of death among children – remain widespread. We conduct targeted paediatric programmes, support community health workers, and build the capacity of public facilities, especially during the ‘lean season’ between harvests, which coincides with the rainy season and the peak of malaria.
MSF supports community health workers in more than 40 villages in the Maradi region, representing hundreds of villages throughout Niger. Community health workers are particularly active during the peak malaria season and provide early detection and treatment of uncomplicated malaria as well as screening for malnutrition. The recent increase in health promotion and community activities in the region has resulted in a 25 per cent reduction in admissions for severe and complicated malaria cases in the health facilities we support.
Despite the closure of borders due to COVID-19 and the anti-migration law, the flow of migrants has not decreased in Assamaka, in northern Niger. On the contrary, many migrants continue to use the desert passageways, hoping to reach Europe via Algeria and Morocco. But many do not make it across this line. They are arrested, tortured, stripped and deported with military force by Algerian guards close to the border at Assamaka. In this remote desert, our teams run activities to support abandoned and lost people on the move.
In Niger, we support various health centres and provide general and specialised care to host and refugee communities, mainly in the Tillabéri region. We also organise mobile clinics to provide medical and mental health consultations and distribute essential household items to refugees. Due to limited access to healthcare and intensified violence in northwestern Nigeria, we are also seeing an increasing number of sick and malnourished children from Nigeria in MSF-supported facilities in the Maradi region.
Treating severely malnourished children in Madarounfa
Every year from July to October, the combination of the hunger gap and rainy season triggers a spike in the number of children suffering from acute malnutrition and malaria in southern Niger. Follow our teams through our hospital in Madarounfa where we treat severely malnourished children with emergency care.
Our activities in 2022 in Niger
Data and information from the International Activity Report 2022.
In 2022, our teams carried out mass vaccination campaigns, distributed drinking water and relief items, such as hygiene and cooking kits, constructed shelters, and ran mobile clinics for displaced people in Diffa and Tillabéri regions.
In the second half of the year, Niger was hit by devastating floods, which affected hundreds of thousands of people. As well as running mobile clinics and distributing relief items to displaced people, we helped boost bed capacity in Niamey regional hospital.
We also supported the health authorities’ responses to outbreaks of measles and meningitis in Zinder, Diffa and Tahoua regions. During the peak malaria period, due to the exceptionally high number of patients requiring inpatient care in Magaria, we constructed two observation rooms in Tinkim and Yékoua health centres.
In Madarounfa district, we provide care for children with sickle cell disease, which includes vaccinations, antibiotics to prevent and treat infections, pain medications and blood transfusions. In 2022, to better prevent and manage severe complications of the disease, we introduced treatment with hydroxyurea, a drug listed by the World Health Organization as essential for haemoglobin diseases in children but still difficult to access in Niger.
In addition, we offered medical and nutrition care to children with malnutrition, malaria and other childhood diseases in Madarounfa hospital and five health areas in Maradi. As a result of our partnership with the health authorities and the World Food Programme, dedicated to treating children with moderate acute malnutrition, the number of hospital admissions for malnutrition was the lowest in four years.
The two-way flow of migrants over the Niger-Algeria border continued unabated in 2022. Thousands were deported by the Algerian authorities and stranded in the desert. MSF denounced the inhumane treatment of migrants expelled from Algeria and Libya, and called on authorities to take immediate measures to respect human dignity in border control.