Niger: Things I didn’t know about

As the plane touched down the temperature gauge read 100 degrees. It had been climbing rapidly as we descended into Niamey, the capital of Niger.

Django, the driver who met me at the airport said that it’s not very hot at the moment!

Before arriving in Niger I have to admit to not knowing very much about the country except that it had a severe food crisis in 2005 – a repeat situation we’re tying to avoid this year.

A quick Google search on Niger only came up with rather depressing statistics:

· Life expectancy 42. My husband would have been dead six years ago.

· Literacy rate 17.6%. I wouldn’t be able to read these stats

· 1 in 6 children die before they reach their fifth birthday

· Niger is ranked bottom of the UN Human Development Index

· Niger has the highest fertility rate in the world – meaning that half of the population is under 15

· 80% of the country is desert

With a little more digging I found that:

· In 1972 Issake Dabore won a bronze medal for Niger for boxing in the 1972 Olympics – Niger’s only Olympic medal so far

· Niger is home to giraffes – West African or Niger Giraffes to be precise, as well as lions, elephants and leopards

· Niger is one of the worlds leading producers of uranium

So, a lot more to find out now I’m here.

I spent my first day in my new office at the Save the Children base in Niamey, finding out about our current programme work in health, nutrition and food security and livelihoods – and the plans to scale this work up dramatically to reach the increasing numbers of families needing support during this tough time.

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