Niger remains at the top of air pollution in Africa. The air in this West African country has a concentration of physical pollutants that exceeds eight times the rate recommended by the World Health Organization (WHO), which is 10 micrograms of fine particles per cubic meter [1]. Niger’s atmosphere concentrates on average up to 80.1 micrograms of physical agents per cubic meter (m3). The high concentration of physical pollutants in Niger’s atmosphere worries scientists because of the serious consequences it has on human health and the environment.  The environmental consequences are no less serious. At the level of flora, air pollution prevents photosynthesis in many cases, with serious consequences for the purification of the air breathed by humans. This pollution also contributes to the formation of acid rain. This pollution also contributes to the formation of acid rain, which alters the amount of chemicals in the soil and fresh water, affecting food chains [2].

Furthermore, pollution of the Niger River has reached a worrying level according to the 2020 technical report of the Bamako Sewer Network Mapping Project and Assessment of Wastewater Discharges from the City into the Niger River "Cart'Eau". According to the document, more than six hundred million liters of liquid and solid waste are dumped into the Niger River crossing Bamako [3].

Waste management and handling is not well developed in Niger neither. There is little to awareness of potential hazards and the legislation is not well developed. Enforcement plans are also missing as well as recycling programmes [4].


Air pollution in Niger is mainly caused by mining activities, petroleum, cement, and brick industries, Sahara Desert dust, and vehicle emissions [1]. Poverty, poor enforcement of pollution standards for air quality, and lack of awareness of the health risks associated with pollution are also contributing factors.


Key policies and governance approach

Article 35 of the Constitution of Niger (2010) guarantees the right of every person to have a healthy environment and obliges the State to protect the environment in the interest of present and future generations.

A key legislative instrument related to water pollution is the Ordinance 2010-09 of April 1, 2010 amending Law 98-014 of December 07, 1998 on the Water Code in Niger. Several articles of this text are devoted to various sources of pollution, and the means of combating those. The order specifies that when the activity of natural or legal persons is likely to cause or aggravate pollution water or the degradation of the aquatic environment, the promoters of the said activity support and/or contribute to the financing of the measures that the State and the local authorities must take against this pollution, with a view to offsetting the effects and ensuring the conservation of water resources, according to the “polluter pays” principle [5].


Successes and remaining challenges

Despite Niger’s effort to face the challenges of pollution, the four national communications (1990, 2000, 2008 and 2014) to the UNFCCC show an increasing trend in environmental pollution. According to Niger’s 2021 Updated NDC, the Waste Sector accounts for 945.758 GgCO2eq (2.29%), ranking second to last after AFOLU and Energy Sector and just before the industrial sector [6].


Initiatives and Development Plans

Among others, the GEF-funded project “Improving IWRM, Knowledge-based Management and Governance of the Niger Basin and the Iullemeden-Taoudeni/Tanezrouft Aquifer System (NB-ITTAS)”  brought together international, regional and national entities to work on integrated water resources management for the benefit of communities and the resilience of ecosystems. One part of the early project research found that as the Niger River passes through Tembakounda, Bamako, Gao, Niamey, Lokoja and Onithsa – major trading, agro-processing and industrial cities – wastewater and other polluting substances are discharged directly into the river, often without consideration for the environment. National governments of the countries which the river runs through are either unable to deal with the accumulated environmental problems and/or are ineffective at preventing, regulating, reducing and managing pollution from industrial activities. For this reason, one component of the GEF project, implemented by the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO), will facilitate the Transfer of Environmentally Sound Technology (TEST) to reduce wastewater discharges and pollution loads into the Niger River. This will mean the application of a  set of tools including Resource Efficient and Cleaner Production, Environmental Management Systems, and Environmental Management Accounting, which will lead to the adoption of best practices, new skills and a new management culture [7].


Goals and Ambitions

One of the strategic objectives of the Niger’s Fifth national report to the CBD is to reduce various types of pollution. At this level, actions will be oriented towards the fight against the proliferation of invasive species and improving the management of household, mining and industrial waste, discharges from effluents and chemical pollution [8].

  • Even though health concerns from environmental pollutions is evolving in Niger. There is a lack of monitoring studies on pollution in the country. The country systems for monitoring pollution and changes in natural resources linked to changes in air and water quality should be supported.
  • Impacts from water and air pollution and vector-borne diseases are areas for concern in Niger. These impacts require not only continued investment, but also full integration of environmental protection and climate change into the Niger’s policies and plans.