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Keywords: emergency relieffood crisiswatoto
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Area: 1.27 million sq km
Population: 15.3 million
Languages: French, Arabic, Hausa, Songhai
Religions: Muslim, Indigenous beliefs
GNI per capita: US$330
Currency: 1 CFA (Communaute Finance Africaine) franc = 100 c
Niger became independent from France in 1960 and experienced single-party and military rule until 1991, when Gen. Ali Saibou was forced by public pressure to allow multiparty elections, which resulted in a democratic government in 1993. 
Located in West Africa’s Sahara region, most of Niger’s land is fairly dry and unproductive. It is one of the hottest countries in the world; northern four-fifths is desert, southern one-fifth is savanna, suitable for livestock and limited agriculture. 
While the mining of uranium and other minerals has brought some economic development to the country, the majority of families are still living in poverty. Parents struggle to meet their children’s most basic needs.
With little primary education, Niger has one of the lowest literacy rates in the world. Its health system is basic and disease is widespread.
Only 46 percent of Nigerians have access to clean water, and just 12 percent have adequate sanitation. These numbers mean many children are at risk for disease.