Natural Hazard Risk
Niger is highly vulnerable to a number of natural hazards, particularly droughts, floods, landslides, and locus invasions.
Floods are the most common and recurring natural hazard. 2012 flooding, which hit the region the hardest, killed approximately 300 people and injured 6,000. Critical facilities experience $183 million in damages each year from flooding, of which $114 million in the education sector and $26 million in road infrastructure. In addition, almost 80 percent of the country is covered by the Sahara Desert. And the climatic and geographic transition into the Sahara creates enormous and unpredictable risk for water scarcity and drought. The average annual impact of this effect is $7 billion.
Climate change is causing increasingly irregular rainfall, rising temperatures, and desertification, which impacts agricultural productivity and food insecurity. While only 12.5 percent of land is arable, nearly 80 percent of the population work in agriculture, making this sector particularly vulnerable to climate-related hazards. Further, already insufficient drinking water supplies are under pressure due to the depletion of ponds and natural lakes and the reduced flow of the River Niger.
In recent years, the Niger has advanced disaster risk management (DRM) efforts. The government has focused on sustainable development, building resilience to natural hazards, food shortages, and climate change, and on establishing related institutions for implementation.
The National Mechanism for the Prevention and Management of Disasters and Food Crises, under the Office of the Prime Minister, coordinates DRM activities. Its primary focus is operational strategies to reduce disaster risk and the frequency of food and nutritional crises, including their impacts on living conditions. Additionally, the National Council on Environment for Sustainable Development (CNEDD) is a cross-cutting coordinating body for environment and sustainable development. The Prime Minister’s Office and CNEDD supervise the country’s crisis and natural disaster prevention and management mechanisms, which includes the early warning system and the food crisis unit.
In 2011, the Government of Niger launched the 3N Initiative “Nigeriens Nourish Nigeriens.” It is the main framework for food and nutrition security interventions by public administrations, local authorities, and non-state actors by 2035. The initiative aims to strengthen national capacities in food production and supply, and resilience to food crises and disasters.
To further advance its DRM agenda, Niger is prioritizing:
- Lessening climate change impacts to strengthen sustainable development;
- Establishing DRM financing mechanisms; and
- Strengthening institutional capacity and improving data management.
Since 2008, GFDRR has taken steps to advance DRM both in Niger and in the Sahel region. Key areas have included risk reduction, disaster preparedness, and resilience building of Sahel populations vulnerable to drought and other natural hazards.
In 2012, GFDRR assisted a comprehensive impact assessment to support the government to recover from the 2012 floods, which particularly hit the Tillabéri region. The assessment provided recovery and reconstruction interventions related to agriculture and urban development, and communication plans to ensure preparedness for the following flood season.
In addition, GFDRR supported a community-based disaster risk reduction project in 2012 to strengthen local civil society organizations. The project implemented community-based trainings, technical support, information gathering, institutional support to local structures, and facilitation of their relation with the national structures. Community members were trained in disaster risk reduction to enhance the inclusion of climate change adaptation and disaster risk management within 10 municipal development plans. The capacity of 46 community early warning, contingency planning, and emergency response systems were developed to streamline communication between the sectors and administrative levels, allowing for locally-informed and targeted responses. This project informed a $100 million World Bank project that aims to improve Niger’s resilience to natural hazards through DRM interventions and by strengthening the government's capacity to respond to crises.
GFDRR supported a risk resilience building project in the Sahel region. National governments, including Niger, and regional organizations improved their knowledge base on water resources for resilience and strengthened collaboration for disaster preparedness.
Beginning in 2015, GFDRR supported a project to help build the government’s action plan for risk information management and early warning systems. The project has developed a public information tool for data sharing that addresses the management of information on hazard, exposure, and vulnerability, and a program to support emergency response.
Looking ahead, GFDRR anticipates demand from the Government of Niger on:
- Mainstreaming DRM practices into development activities;
- Strengthening natural hazard resilience; and
- Improving the disaster preparedness of the population in disaster-prone areas.