Dangerous Combination of Poverty, Disease, and Neglect

Executive Summary:

Niger is likely to remain vulnerable to infectious disease, particularly water borne, over the the 10 to 15 years related directly to the lack of a reliable, safe water supply. Poor economic performance and a lack of interest from the international community are likely to hamper efforts to improve the situation.


Niger is home to many of the deadliest water, food, and vector borne diseaes, including malaria, typhoid, and cholera. The genesis of this lies in the destitute poverty that the overwhelming majority of the people in Niger live in. Weak to begin with, the price of Niger's top export, uranium, fell and left the economy in an extremely vulnerable position. Inconsistant, unsafe water supplies enhance the environment for the spread of dangerous infectious diseases. The combination of a vitually non existant economy; unpredictable weather for subsistance agriculture and herding; and a generally unsafe water supply leave Niger in a dangerous poverty gap that promotes the spread of infectious disease.

Malaria stalks all of Niger, but hits children particularly hard. 50% of all deaths of children under the age of 5 in 2005 resulted from malaria. Unfortunately, Malaria does not strike alone. During the seasonal transition time between the dry and rainy season, typhoid and cholera strike the country with significant affect, due mostly to the lack of access to clean water. Flooding in the country created a serious cholera out break.
external image polio.jpg
Recently, adding to the misery, polio has reappeared in certain areas. Niger has returned to the list of countries that host the disease endemicly. By sharing a border with Nigeria and its blossoming polio epidemic, Niger automatically is vulnerable to the disease, and the unsafe water supply means that wild polio has receptive residence. With the poor economic performance, little modern infrastructure, and at risk water supply, Niger will remain exposed to the virus as long as Nigeria continues to be a source for it.

The remoteness and poverty that Niger must overcome contribute to the problem it has in obtaining the aid necessary to do so. The weakness of the Nigerien economy makes it virtually impossible for the Niamey government counter the infectious disease alone, and therefore is almost completely reliant on international aid.



Source Reliability: 8
Analytic Confidence: 8

Return to Niger Main Page
Return to Rest of Africa Main Page