The critical environmental and sustainability issues of Niger:
Niger is a landlocked country located in West Africa with a population of about 17 million. As of 2013 it is the least developed country in the world, ranking last at 187 on the U.N. Human Development Index. According to UNICEF, youth literacy for males is 50 percent and only 23 percent for females—adult literacy stands at 28 percent. Primary school attendance rate for males is 44 percent and 31 percent for females. School attendance further decreases with only 13 percent attendance in secondary school for males and eight percent for females.The government spends 3.9 percent of GDP on education, which is not necessarily a small amount. But with more than 50 percent of the population under 15, much of the population is being neglected.
More than 65 percent of Nigerians live off nature and its goods. 70-80% of Nigeria’s original forests have disappeared through logging, agriculture, city expansion, expansion of roads and building of industry. This has led to loss of plants and animals that depend on these forests. With the expected consequences of climate change these losses are expected to increase.
- Oil Spilling
The Exxon Valdez spill in Alaska in 1989 was one of the worst oil spills in history. There has been an Exxon Valdez spill every year for 50 years. In 2011, UNEP found that people in Ogoniland have lived with chronic pollution all their lives due to severe damage caused by oil spilling. Benzene levels are 900 times higher than the WHO recommendations. The oil companies Shell and ENI of the Niger Delta report more than 600 spills each year.
- Water Crisis and Poor Sanitation
In Niger, water-related diseases and poor hygiene and sanitation practices are one of the leading causes of death among children under five. Access to drinking water and sanitation is still very low in Niger with large disparities between urban and rural areas and between regions. Only 56% of the population has access to a source of drinking water with a 7% increase in the supply of services between 2012 and 2015. Only 13% of the population has access to basic sanitation services. Open defecation is practiced by more than 71% of the population with serious consequences on health, nutrition, education or economic development. Only 22.7% of schools have access to drinking water and 26.7% access to sanitation facilities. In addition, school-age girls do not have adequate menstrual hygiene management services.
With a growing population of 16.6 million people, over 45 percent of citizens live under the international poverty line. Some causes of poverty in Niger are the high birth rate, the major and minor droughts that effect agricultural and economic growth, and the outward effects of the conflict involving the militant Islamist group Boko Haram. Niger has a literacy rate of only 19.1 percent and 42.2 percent of children under five suffer from malnutrition.