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Arid Niger a 'model for Africa' as desert blooms
14 September 2018 - Grappling with desert conditions, insurgency, and decades of political instability, Niger has long struggled to feed its rapidly growing population. But experts say efforts to change that are bearing fruit -- and may even be a model for the region. Boukari Lawali's farm was transformed using an ancient technique that involves digging half moon-shaped trenches to allow rain to soak into the soil during the wet season instead of running off the hard-baked surface. The simple technique is helping to restore land that was once fertile but has been degraded by erosion, deforestation, overgrazing, and climate change. (more)

Niger leads pack making progress on child mortality
23 October 2013 - Niger has made the most progress worldwide on reducing child mortality since 1990, according to a study out Wednesday. A large part of Niger's success has been its progress across income groups. One of the world's poorest nations, Niger nonetheless implemented nutritional programmes and access to free care for pregnant women and children. Also among the top 10 nations that have made the greatest strides in tackling such deaths are Liberia, Rwanda, Indonesia, Madagascar, India, China, Egypt, Tanzania, and Mozambique, Save the Children found. (more)

Niger: Child mortality slashed
20 September 2012 - Niger has nearly halved the death rate of children below five years old since 1998, a significant drop highlighting the benefits of free universal health care for children and pregnant women as well as increased donor funding for health, The Lancet said in a study released on 20 September. 'The research demonstrates the success of the strategy implemented by the government and its partners, an important step toward the well-being of the Niger population,' Agbessi Amouzou, one of the study's authors, told IRIN. 'The basic principles, that is, reaching high proportions of mothers and children with the interventions that can save their lives, using strategies that provide services at community level, can and should be applied in other countries,' said Amouzou. (more)

Niger fuel self-sufficient with refinery launch
28 November 2011 - Niger inaugurated its first oil refinery on Monday, marking the arrival of the West African state as a commercial oil producer and making it self-sufficient in refined oil products. The Soraz refinery near Zinder, some 900 km (560 miles) east of the capital Niamey is a joint venture with China. Its 20,000 barrel-per-day capacity will be fed entirely by oil from the newly-launched Agadem oilfield a further 700 km east. (more)

Niger says oil reserves may be triple previous estimate
21 July 2011 - Niger's government said on Wednesday that oil reserves in its eastern Agadem oil block could be three times higher than the previous estimate of 300 million barrels. The poor West African country's first oil is expected at the beginning of next year. (more)

Niger civilians, armed forces sign stability pact
7 March 2011 - Representatives of civil organizations and the armed forces in the west central African state of Niger on Monday 7 March signed an agreement to respect the country's constitution to guarantee stability. (more)

Niger government to distribute 21,000 tonnes of food
15 May 2010 - Niger's government says it is launching a food distribution programme in the West African nation. A government spokesman said that more than 21,000 tonnes of food would be given to 1.5 million people in need. (more)

West Africa's last giraffes make surprise comeback
7 November 2009 - West Africa's giraffes have bounced miraculously back from the brink of extinction, swelling from a mere 50 to more than 200 today. It's an unlikely boon experts credit to a combination of concerned conservationists, a government keen for revenue, and a rare harmony with villagers who have accepted their presence. There are nine subspecies of giraffes in Africa, each distinguished by geographic location and the colour, pattern, and shape of their spotted coats. (more)

Niger: Tuareg peace deal revives tourism hopes
6 November 2009 - Four weeks after Tuareg fighters signed an agreement with the governments of Niger and Mali to lay down their arms, tour agency Point Afrique said it will resume flights from France to the city of Agadez -- a one-time top African tourist draw left virtually marooned by a two-year insurgency. The town, known for its picturesque 16th century mosque, quaint 'old city', and proximity to the vast desert dunes, is now hoping the thousands of people who used to visit every year will start to return. (more)

Africa: Niger rebel leader says Saharan Tuaregs to set down guns
19 August 2008 - Niger's Tuareg rebel leader Aghaly ag Alambo said his fighters would lay down their guns from Monday and, together with neighbouring Mali's Tuareg rebellion, submit to mediation by Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi. Tuareg nomads in the Saharan north of Niger and Mali took up arms against their respective southern-based central governments last year. (more)

Short Summaries of Top Stories

Some 800,000 people to need food aid in Niger - UN
12 May 2013 - Some 800,000 people will require food aid in Niger in the coming months despite a good harvest last year due to problems supplying cereals to markets, which have pushed up prices, and an influx of Malian refugees, the United Nations said. The UN office for humanitarian coordination (OCHA) said they would need food from now until the start of the rainy season, which is usually in July, July, and August. It said the situation was critical in 13 regions surveyed by the government in March, where 84,000 people needed emergency food aid. The agency cited problems with supplying food to markets in some areas, such as the northern mining region of Arlit and Tahoua in central Niger and Tillabery in the west, which had driven up cereals prices. The presence of some 60,000 refugees from Mali -- where a French-led international mission has battled Islamist rebels since January -- has exacerbated the food shortages in Tillabery and Tahoua, OCHA has said. (more)

Nigeria Exxon spill spreads for miles along coast
17 November 2012 - An oil spill at an ExxonMobil facility offshore from the Niger Delta has spread at least 20 miles from its source, coating waters used by fishermen in a film of sludge. A reporter visiting several parts of Akwa Ibom state saw a rainbow-tinted oil slick stretching for 20 miles (32 km) from a pipeline that Exxon had shut down because of a leak a week ago. Locals scooped it into jerry cans. Mark Ward, the managing director of ExxonMobil's local unit, said a clean up had been mobilised, and he apologised to affected communities for the spill. Exxon said last Sunday it had shut a pipeline off the coast of Akwa Ibom state after an oil leak whose cause was unknown. 'This is the worst spill in this community since Exxon started its operations in the area,' said Edet Asuquo, 40, a fisherman in the Mkpanak community, as women scooped oil into buckets. In some marshy areas, plants were poking out of the slick, not yet dead and blackened by the oil. 'The fishermen cannot fish any longer and have no alternative means of survival,' Asuquo said. (more)

Niger says international aid for flood victims stolen
8 September 2012 - Niger said on Saturday that international food aid intended for victims of flooding in the West African state was being stolen by those meant to distribute it. Niger, one of the world's poorest and least developed countries, had sought 6,300 tonnes of emergency food aid from donor nations after heavy rains that have killed 68 people since August and left half a million others homeless. 'We have information that aid is being diverted to other places, that is, not to the victims of the flooding,' Abdou Labo, minister of the interior and public security, said at a press conference. Local activists and human rights advocates have been complaining since mid-August that the emergency flood aid was being mismanaged, with supplies being given to friends and family of the people meant to be delivering them. (more)

Niger faces double risk from Libya, food crisis - UN
12 September 2011 - Niger risks being destabilised by thousands of migrants, some of them armed, returning from Libya as it faces an impending food crisis, the local head of the United Nations said Monday. Modibo Traore said the influx from Libya of Nigerien workers fleeing with next to nothing meant their families back home could not count on the steady flow of remittances which are an essential financial prop for Niger's 16-million population. Prime Minister Brigi Rafini said that the Libyan conflict risked harmful consequences for Niger, appealing for support on both humanitarian and security matters. Rafini said that due to a combination of floods in some parts of the country, poor crop development, pest attacks, and drought, harvests were lower than expected this year. So far more than 150,000 people have fled Libya into the northern part of Niger, mostly covered by desert. (more)

Libyan crisis hammering Niger economy - President
2 July 2011 - The conflict in Libya has cost Niger billions in lost revenues from taxes on trade and stemmed the flow of remittances from over 200,000 migrants who have been forced to return home, Niger's President said. Niger has produced uranium for decades but remains one of Africa's poorest countries as it faces cycles of food crises. Analysts say the flow of weapons from Libya's war into the region has deepened security fears that have already hit Niger's tourism industry. President Mahamadou Issoufou said that the Libyan crisis was having severe economic social and security consequences on his country. 'We are threatened by the Islamists, traffickers and armed groups. These threats have been exacerbated by the crisis in Libya...a political solution has to be found,' he said. (more)

Niger kidnappings show terror's spread
10 January 2011 - Two young Frenchmen were abducted on Friday in Niger's capital, Niamey. Blamed by French authorities on al-Qaida's North Africa branch, the kidnapping ended with the pair's tragic deaths during a failed French-led rescue attempt over the weekend. The bold hostage-taking showed in the most chilling way that abductions like these are no longer limited to the distant, lawless deserts of northwestern Africa where smugglers and bandits have long held sway. David Zounmenou, a senior researcher at the Institute for Security Studies in Pretoria, South Africa, said it shows the kidnappers 'have the capacity to operate freely wherever they want.' 'They are no longer limited to looking for victims in places without state authority,' he observed. 'They can go anywhere.' Experts say foreigners, mostly European, are increasingly being kidnapped by criminal networks and 'sold' to al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb, known as AQIM. (more)

Niger kidnappings show group getting bolder
23 September 2010 - Al-Qaida-linked gunmen in northern Niger forced their way past the security cordon of one of the world's most heavily guarded mining towns, made their way through streets patrolled by 350 soldiers, past the gate of a secure residential area and the security guards to kidnap seven foreigners in their homes. The boldness of the raid underscores the reach of a terror group formed just four years ago, and whose growing footprint has now turned entire regions of Africa into no-go zones for foreigners. The abductions cap an astounding arc for the terror group founded in 1998 as the Salafist Group of Call and Combat, an Algeria-based terror cell whose activities were largely contained to its nation of origin. In 2006, the group brokered an alliance with al-Qaida and changed its name to reflect it had become a franchise of the global terror network. Ayman al-Zawahiri, Osama Bin Laden's lieutenant, issued a message calling the alliance 'a blessed union.' 'AQIM is going to continue to grow. We've know that for some time and put the warning out,' said Rudolph Atallah, who recently retired from his post as Africa Counterterrorism Director in the Office of the Secretary of Defence. 'They are expanding beyond their territory. (more)

Aid workers warn of famine disaster in Niger
14 August 2010 - Niger is now facing the worst hunger crisis in its history, with almost half the country's population in desperate need of food and up to one in six children suffering from acute malnutrition, aid officials say. Malek Triki, West Africa spokesman for the United Nations' World Food Programme, said villagers in Niger are describing the situation as worse than in 2005, when aid organizations treated tens of thousands of children for malnutrition, and worse even than 1973, when thousands died. 'What they are saying is that this is the worst crisis in living memory,' Triki said. (more)

Factbox - Key players in Niger's military junta
19 February 2010 - Niger's capital was calm a day after a military junta led by a mutinous major ousted President Mamadou Tandja and suspended the constitution of the central African uranium producer. (more)

Niger coup leader silent on election timetable
19 February 2010 - Niger's military junta leader made his first public appearance on Friday, a day after toppling President Mamadou Tandja in a coup, but made no mention of any timetable to elections. Troops who seized power and captured Tandja on Thursday set up what they called the Supreme Council for the Restoration of Democracy. But junta leader Salou Djibo promised only that he would begin discussions soon with ministry officials on the country's priorities. 'For the moment we are at a starting point, and we will create a consultative body,' Djibo told a news conference. The coup in the west African uranium producing nation drew international condemnation. (more)


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