Niger

Situation Report

Highlights

  • As of 5 July, the Ministry of Health has reported 1,093 cases of COVID-19 out of 8,114 tests carried out; including 968 recoveries, 57 people undergoing treatment and 68 deaths.
  • The Government and the humanitarian community are working together to ensure integrated coordinated response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • Humanitarian needs were already at an all-time high prior to the pandemic and are now growing further particularly in the food security, protection, shelter and healthcare sectors.
  • In compliance with the lifting of COVID-19 related restrictions by the government, the United Nations in Niger has established a guidance note.
NIGER: Kid with crossed arms in IDPs camp

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Niger

Situation Report

Key Figures

2,9M
people in need
187K
internally displaced people
218K
refugees
2M
people food insecure

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Niger

Situation Report

Funding

$509.8M
Required
$99.5M
Received
20%
Progress
FTS

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Contacts

Dieudonne Bamouni

Head of Office

Laura Fultang

Strategic Communication and Public Information Unit

Niger

Situation Report
Emergency Response

Government ramps up support from the humanitarian community to address the COVID-19 pandemic in Niger

Since the first case of COVID-19 was reported in Niger on 19 March, the humanitarian community continues to support government efforts in response to the pandemic. The number of imported and local transmission cases increased rapidly and peaked on 9 April with 69 new cases. As of 5 July, the Ministry of Health has reported 1,093 cases of COVID-19 out of 8,114 tests carried out; including 968 recoveries, 57 people undergoing treatment and 68 deaths. The capital city, Niamey is the epicenter of the pandemic with over 70% of the confirmed cases while Zinder and Agadez are equally the most affected regions.

The humanitarian community participates actively in various technical and coordination structures both at national and regional levels; advocating particularly for the needs of the most vulnerable people amidst the COVID-19 response. With a mortality rate of 6.47, robust sensitization and communication with communities is ongoing countrywide to boost awareness on the disease and preventive measures to contain its spread. COVID-19 screening and testing is also underway particularly at entry points into the country.

The COVID-19 pandemic has seriously impacted Niger’s socio-economic situation and exacerbated pre-existing vulnerabilities. As a result, the Government has reviewed down its gross domestic product (GDP) growth projections from 6.9% to 1%. The budget deficit is expected to reach 5% compared to the 2.7% forecast and an increased inflation rate of 4.4% from 2.6%.

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Niger

Situation Report
Analysis

Effective synergy between the Government and partners

At the on-set of the crisis, an inter-Ministerial pandemic control committee was set-up under the auspices of the Prime Minister/Head of Government. Decentralized sub-committees were also established at national and regional levels to enhance strategic decision making and response. The Government and the humanitarian community are working together to ensure integrated coordinated response to the COVID-19 pandemic as well as humanitarian response to pre-existing critical needs faced by people affected by the crisis in Niger.

In a bid to provide effective support to the Government, the Humanitarian Country Team has set-up an ad hoc strategic committee comprising representatives of the United Nations, international NGOs and donors. This is to ensure coordination between national authorities and the humanitarian community.

In order to address increasing needs as a result of the pandemic, an operational task force led by the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) has urged clusters to alter high impact interventions and their implementation through the use of standard operating procedures (SOPs) to best reach populations affected. Humanitarian activities and response were prioritized and adapted to align with priorities stipulated in the Niger government’s COVID-19 preparedness and response plan. In the fight against the disease, the government is focused on preparedness, prevention, testing and treatment.

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Niger

Situation Report
Analysis

Humanitarian needs are exacerbated

In Niger, humanitarian needs were already at an all-time high prior to the pandemic and are now growing further particularly in the food security, protection, shelter and healthcare sectors. The humanitarian community is however committed to stay and continue providing critical assistance to the people in need.

Health: Healthcare facilities dedicated to the treatment of COVID-19 have been set up countrywide but the services remain limited both in Niamey and in the regions. Even before the pandemic, the lack of medicines, shortage of qualified human resources and their uneven deployment had negatively impacted the provision of care. According to the government’s COVID-19 preparedness and response plan, the country has a 50.63% healthcare coverage rate with insufficient numbers of trained and qualified healthcare providers. So far, 184 medical personnel have tested positive for COVID-19 (representing 17% of infected people), further reducing the number of available staff.

The country is already grappling with various endemic health issues including malaria, meningitis, measles, cholera, (Shigellosis) intestinal bacteria and yellow fever. COVID-19 is the new addition to the list of diseases faced by the country. With more than nine out of ten patients (90.1%) who have recovered from COVID-19 as of 22 June, the National Institute of Statistics (NIS) has ranked Niger in sixth position among the African countries with a highest recovery rates.

Food security: The food security situation in Niger is of high concern due to the impact of COVID-19. As a result of the economic downturn and containment measures, 5,6 million people will be at risk of food insecurity during the lean season from June to September (23% of the total population – 24.2 million people), compared to 2 million anticipated at the beginning of the year. Ongoing insecurity, the lack of resources, and constrained access to food is worsening food insecurity in the country.

The COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in the disruption of infant and child feeding practices (IYCF), a slowdown in nutrition awareness and prevention activities and the reduction of access to health and nutrition services. Consequently, the number of children suffering from severe acute malnutrition (SAM) is likely to increase by 35% and the number of children suffering from moderate acute malnutrition (MAM) by 27%.

The situation is expected to worsen as economic activities and market flows are constrained due to the closure of borders between neighbouring countries. In a country highly dependent on food imports and with limited stocks in-country, food prepositioning is critical to mitigate possible supply chain disruptions. With the start of the rainy season (June-September), access to markets and roads may be hampered further. As a result, food security actors have prepositioned adequate stocks to supply remote areas.

Displacement: Conflicts are causing more displacement and disrupting livelihoods particularly in the border region. Internally displaced persons, returnees, refugees and host communities living in conflict-prone areas bordering Nigeria (Diffa and Maradi regions), Burkina Faso and Mali (Tahoua and Tillaberi regions) are particularly vulnerable due to their precarious living condition and insecurity. In addition, 63,000 migrants remain stranded in overcrowded reception and transit centres in Agadez, Niamey, Tahoua and Zinder.

Protection: Humanitarian actors are disseminating COVID-19 related information, strengthening psychosocial support and boosting awareness raising campaigns on gender-based violence. Child protection actors aim to prevent separation and abandonment which are higher risks during the pandemic. As an immediate consequence of the COVID-19 pandemic, the already fragile humanitarian and protection situation in Diffa has deteriorated further with serious reduction of humanitarian movements and access to affected people. Some of the protection risks faced by forcibly displaced persons which might be aggravated by the pandemic include: the risk of escalation and worsening of conflicts; kidnapping with payment of ransoms; stigmatization of COVID-19 patients and their relatives within communities; forced child marriage due to lack of resources of families; risk of refoulement due to border closures, the risk of social discrimination and exclusion that displaced persons could face (particularly in case of positive COVID-19 test).

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Niger

Situation Report
Analysis

Responding to an unprecedented crisis

At the onset of the health crisis, the Government announced several decisions and barrier measures to contain the spread of the virus, including: declaration of a state of health emergency throughout the country, closing of borders, establishment of a curfew, restrictions on movement between regions, ban on gatherings of more than 50 people, closure of worship places, schools and entertainment facilities.

On 7 May, the COVID-19 Global Humanitarian Response Plan (GHRP) was launched, appealing for funds to protect millions of people affected by the spread of the virus in fragile countries including Niger. In providing assistance, the humanitarian community has adopted a series of barrier measures to protect implementing staff and beneficiaries including: physical distancing during assistance, installation of handwashing stations and distribution of hygiene promotion kits, risk communications and outreach, isolation of COVID-19 patients, education by radio and television and temperature checks.

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Niger

Situation Report
Analysis

Progressive return to normalcy

The joint effort between the Government and humanitarian partners in addressing the crisis seems to be yielding fruit as a progressive downward trend in the number of new COVID-19 cases nationwide is being observed. This turning point was noticed in mid-April as the number of cases continue to decrease. Against this back-drop, the government has lifted bans related to the sanitary isolation of Niamey including the reopening of schools, authorization of interurban passenger transportation, commercial activities the convening of workshops and seminars nationwide. Civil service has resumed regular working hours with full staff in attendance.

In an effort to contain the spread of the disease and to prevent the importation of new cases, the humanitarian community supported the Government to establish Standard Operating Procedures (SOP) for the use of Regional passenger humanitarian flights; set-up and managed by WFP. The key aspects of the document focus on measures to be taken prior to travel, during the flight and upon arrival. Responsibilities are clearly stipulated for the traveller, the organization and the government. The government decided on 24 May to temporarily suspend the arrival of passengers into the country until the establishment of an SOP which was endorsed on 13 June. After the ban was lifted, the first humanitarian passengers disembarked in Niamey on 18 June.

In compliance with the lifting of COVID-19 related restrictions by the government, the United Nations in Niger has established a guidance note to ensure a safe and coordinated physical return to offices for staff. This return will be progressive starting with essential staff in July.

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Niger

Situation Report
Analysis

Challenges

While effective collaboration in the fight against the pandemic is ongoing, some challenges are hampering the response process. The weak surveillance and alert system in Niger might obscure the real scope of the pandemic. Niger, which mostly limits screening to symptomatic cases, has a capacity of 1.8 tests per 10,000 people compared to 5.5 tests in Namibia for instance. The surveillance system needs to be strengthened nationwide including cross-border collaboration, ensuring that public health measures are taken on both sides of the porous borders. The country has a total of 54 air and land entry points.

Prior to the outbreak of COVID-19 pandemic, implementation of humanitarian operations was already hampered by various access constraints including persisting insecurity particularly in the West (Tillabéri and Tahoua), South and South-East (Maradi and Diffa) regions. The government’s extension of the state of emergency declared on 17 March for another three months in Diffa, and some Departments in the Tillaberi (10) and Tahoua (2) regions will impact the free movement of humanitarians and supplies. It will also disrupt adequate response to the growing food insecurity crisis.

Humanitarian access is further impeded by incidents against humanitarians including killings, carjacking and robberies. Since January, 425 security incidents have been registered in Niger (including 135 incidents directly impacting humanitarians and the provision of relief activities). Engaging in constant advocacy for the respect of humanitarian principles and international humanitarian law creates and enabling space aid actors.

Finally, the provision of timely assistance is hindered by insufficient funding. In the second half of the year, the joint 2020 Humanitarian Response Plan and COVID-19 response seeking US$ 509.8 million has received $98.7 million – only 19.4% funded. Immediate funding is urgently needed in order not to jeopardize the gains achieved so far and to provide timely assistance to the most vulnerable people.

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