One of the questions we are frequently asked is "What's it like, living in Niger." While that is a huge question that I could never answer in a single blog post, I wanted to share the following information with you about our "other" home.
Area 1,186,408 sq.km. Sahara desert in centre and north. Only the southwest and a narrow strip along the Nigerian border in the south are savannah grasslands.
2000 10,730,102 (+3.24%, 9 people per sq. km.)
2010 14,485,881 (+3.00%, 12 people per sq. km.)
2025 21,495,434 (+2.44%, 18 people per sq. km.)
Capital Niamey 1,000,000. Urbanites 17%.
36 different people groups, including Hausa (43.6%), Nilo-Saharan (27%), Tuareg (12.2%), Fula (10%), Arab (2.3%), Gur (1.3%), Other (.9%)
Official language French. Language of wider communication Hausa.
All languages 21.
Languages with Scriptures
3 Bibles, 5 NT, 4 portions, 8 work in progress
Mining of uranium and other minerals has brought some economic development to this impoverished land, but in the 1980s the Sahel famine, collapse of the uranium market and Nigeria's closure of the common border devastated the economy. Ninety per cent of the population live at bare subsistence level at the best of times. Human Development Index 0.298; 173rd/174. Public debt 68% of GNP. Income/person $200 (0.9% of USA).
For centuries the Tuareg dominated much of the Sahel. French colonial rule 1921-1960. Military regimes with a number of coups. A brief period of democratic rule 1993-96 presaged the democratic government formed in 1999. There has been Tuareg insurgency in the north for some years.
A non-confessional state with considerable freedom of religion and few restrictions on mission work. Islamic fundamentalists are pushing for change and imposition of shari'a law. Persecution index 68th in the world.
Religion (Population % ~ Ann.Gr.)
Muslim (97.59 % ~ +3.9%)
Traditional ethnic (2.00 % ~ -14.0%)
Christian (0.40 % ~ +5.4%)
Baha'i (0.01 % ~ n.a.)
Christians Denom. (Ann.Gr.)
Missionaries from Niger
45 in 8 agencies, nearly all in Niger.
Missionaries to Niger
343 in 35 agencies from 29 countries: USA 128, Brazil 36, UK 32, Nigeria 21.
Challenges for Prayer
- This Muslim land is open for the gospel, and Muslims are more receptive than ever before, yet response has been small and church growth slow. Islam is strong and well-organized. There is an Islamic university 54km from Niamey. Pray that the land may remain open, and that every social, religious and spiritual barrier to the knowledge of the Lord may be removed. The spiritual effects of folk Islam and demonic oppression are a major hindrance to people coming to Christ.
- Pray that there might be a significant increase in those openly confessing Christ and in churches planted.
- Significant prayer challenges: a) Many believers are isolated, often illiterate and rarely have systematic Bible teaching available. b) There are not enough mature leaders – there have been a number of denominational splits. c) Leadership training – the EERN (SIM-related) runs two middle-level Bible schools and two basic Bible schools. There are also many small Bible training schools in the country, run by six different denominations. Pray for effective ways to train more leaders and give further training to those in pastoral work.
- This pioneer land still needs missionaries for all parts of the country. The loving ministry of Christian aid missionaries has won credibility for the gospel and increased interest and response from both Muslims and animists. Pray for more labourers. ... Pray for sensitivity in helping the small, young churches and their leaders to maturity.
- The least reached of Niger. Pray for: a) The Tuareg, once rich, but now impoverished and resentful due to drought, famine, changing trade patterns and political changes. The selfless ministry of a partnership of missionaries ... has opened the hearts of some, and there are some groups of believers. ... Tuareg customs and their unique alphabet hint at a possible once-Christian heritage. b) The Zarma, who are Muslim but strongly influenced by traditional practices. Only a few hundred believers are known. ... missionaries have laboured long but no significant breakthrough has yet come among this resistant people. c) The five Kanuri peoples have a long history of 1,000 years of Islam. Missionaries ... have recently seen a change. Manga Christians, though still few, are seeing their numbers grow from near zero. Scripture portions are available and more of God's Word is in preparation. d) The Fulbe (Fulani), both the settled Sokoto and nomadic Wodaabe Fulbe of the west, and the less Islamized nomadic Fulbe across the whole country. ... There have recently been an increasing number of conversions among the Wodaabe; there were over 60 believers in 1991 and 350 in 2000. e) The Songhai ... Two couples are now working among them. A few have been won to Christ and a congregation has been formed. f) The Tubu peoples in the east.