Information by Country

Niger: Background

This map does not reflect a position by UNICEF on the legal status of any country or territory or the delimitation of any frontiers.
Niger is one of the poorest countries in the world, ranking last on the United Nations Development Programme Human Development Index. The economy of this landlocked sub-Saharan nation is dependent on subsistence crops, livestock and uranium deposits. Drought, desertification – the degradation of productive land – and a high population growth rate have all undercut the economy.

Niger was unable to meet the 2005 target for gender parity in primary education. Although overall access to primary school has increased incrementally, the reduction in disparities between girls and boys has stagnated. Niger became part of the Fast Track Initiative in 2002 and continues to demonstrate commitment to education – for girls and boys – despite severe and ongoing challenges.

Barriers to girls’ education

  • Extreme poverty is the central impediment to girls’ education.
  • Parental illiteracy is a significant problem as 43 per cent of men and only 15 per cent of women are literate.
  • Cultural traditions limit educational and other opportunities for women and girls.

UNGEI in action

UNGEI has not been initiated in Niger.

Key initiatives

  • The 10-Year Educational Development Programme (2003–2013 PDDE), being implemented by Niger’s Ministry of Basic Education and Literacy, aims to improve access and quality of basic educational services, especially for girls in rural areas.
  • The basic education programme continues to focus on promoting girls' education and improving school environment, curricula, equipment, furnishings and education innovations. Girls' education and women's literacy now constitute the launching points for community-based initiatives targeting women.
  • UNICEF is working towards further involving traditional structures in conducting rapid assessments, appraisals, in-depth surveys and studies to collect data on child protection for policy purposes and consolidating and enhancing positive behaviour changes in the area of child and women's rights. This includes increasing awareness of birth registration, discouraging early marriage, promoting nutrition and girls' education.


In 2006, partnerships with bilateral and multilateral donors were strengthened during the revision of the national Poverty Reduction Strategy Paper. Alliances have been reinforced in girls’ education through a partnership between UNICEF and the World Food Programme to provide school canteens and school kits.
Gender equity is being promoted through a joint programme of all United Nations agencies and the Government of Niger.

UNGEI within other national and international frameworks

The country’s Poverty Reduction Strategy Paper (PRSP) has demonstrated the Government’s commitment to reducing impediments to girls’ education. The Common Country Assessment (CCA) and UN Development Assistance Framework (UNDAF) was first conducted for Niger in 2003.


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