Niger, with its population of around 15,000,000 is located in west Africa and shares borders with Nigeria and Benin to its south, Burkina Faso and Mali to its west, Algeria and Libya to its north and Chad to its east and is 80% covered by the Sahara desert with increasing levels of desertification. Achieving independence on April 3rd 1960 from France, it quickly lapsed into what can only be described as a failed state with a rapid succession of single party or military governments. Whilst a government is technically in power its reach barely touches the majority of the country where for most there are not even basic services. Niger is in joint 186th place out of 186 countries and territories in 2013 when ranked in terms of life expectancy, literacy, access to knowledge and the living standards of a country with a life expectancy of 54.7 years. The average age in Niger is just 15 years old, with just under half the population being aged 0 -14 years old.
Most of Niger's population live in poverty and their homes are small mud brick huts, over crowded and without any basic services such as electricity, sanitation or water. In fact, 64% of the country's village population lack access to safe water, with what water being available at risk of contamination due to an almost non existent sanitation systems outside urban areas causing many illnesses including diarrhoea and typhoid fever. Over 10% of all children die at birth and those who survive are at risk of exploitation and human trafficking for a life of begging, enforced working in in gold mines, domestic servitude and also for working in agriculture and stone quarries; in fact an estimated 8,800 to 43,000 people in Niger live under conditions of traditional slavery. This already bleak situation is compounded by regular Tuareg rebellions and droughts across the region that destroy crops and animals; their only source of subsistence living. Child sponsor programs in Niger focus on building schools, providing food aid and supplies such as seeds to develop sustainable farming methods, improving access to safe water supplies and providing care to orphaned and abandoned children. You can help when you sponsor a child in Niger.
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