Niger, although a dry climate country, has abundant groundwater and surface water resources. According to the country’s NBSAP developed in 2014, groundwater flows are estimated at 2.5 billion m3 per year while non-renewable groundwater resources are estimated at over 2,000 billion m3. At the same time, surface water are calculated to be about 30 billion m3 per year (MH/E, 1999) . It is important to underline that, 90% of the renewable surface water resources of Niger originates outside of its borders, arriving in the country via Niger River. The Niger River flows through western Africa over a length of 4,200 km and is the third longest river in Africa. Together with the associated aquifers, the river constitutes one of the most important water resources of the continent. Its catchment area spreads over some 2,100,000 km² and is about six times larger than Germany. It extends across ten countries: Algeria, Benin, Burkina Faso, Ivory Coast, Guinea, Cameroon, Mali, Niger, Nigeria and Chad. As already stated, most of the water resources in the Niger basin are groundwater. Those are extensively used, in particular for households, agriculture and livestock. Groundwater management has not been widely applied so far neither at national nor at regional level .
This increases Niger’s vulnerability. Further threats to Niger River’s water access emerge from upstream dam development as well as the intensification of water use for agricultural purposes . In addition to the major constraint, which is the poor accessibility to these resources due to the often-difficult conditions of exploitation, groundwaters are threatened particularly by silting, which leads to a decrease in biological productivity. Other sources of water of the country, such as the Lake Chad, are also under serious risk due to climate change, with the surface shrinking from 25,000 square kilometers in the 1960s to just 1800 km2 in 2010 . These phenomenon have consequential effects on water quality and quantity, as well as on food and water security of more than 50 million people in Niger and bordering countries. The projections show that, if the population will grow, the per capita water availability will plummet by 85% in 2080, compared to 2000 level .
Water, sanitation and hygiene is another major issue for Niger. In the country, water-related diseases and poor hygiene and sanitation practices are one of the leading causes of death among children under five . Access to drinking water and sanitation is still very low, with large disparities between urban and rural areas and between regions. Only 56% of the population has access to a source of drinking water with a 7% increase in the supply of services between 2012 and 2015. The percentage of the population having access to basic sanitation services is extremely low as well, reaching only 13% of Niger’s population. Open defecation is practiced by more than 71% of the population with serious consequences on health, nutrition, education or economic development; while just 22.7% of schools have access to drinking water and 26.7% access to sanitation facilities. In addition, school-age girls do not have adequate menstrual hygiene management services .
Water accessibility problems and water scarcity is a major problem in Niger. The main drivers of this issues can be identified has the rapid population growth, which has not been accompanied by an increase in the delivery of water supply, sewerage and sanitation services, the construction of dams as well as the intensification of water use for agricultural purposes. At the same time climate change and extreme weather conditions such as droughts play an important role in building the water insecurity of the country. Another problem identified as disruptive for Niger’s groundwater is the silting practice .
According to the National Action Plan for Integrated Water Resources Management (PANGIRE), despite its significant water resources, Niger suffers from a chronic deficit due to several due to several factors which are the uneven distribution of rainfall and runoff over time and the unequal distribution of rainfall and runoff in time and space, the insufficient knowledge of water resources, the poor mobilization of potential resources and poor management of existing resources .
Key policies and governance approach
At the national level, in 2000- 2001 Niger updated its Water and Sanitation Policy and reorganized its urban water sector. The policy reorganized key agency responsibilities, created new water service providers and created the Water Sectoral Project (PSE). Most notably, the policy update created the Asset Holding Company for Urban Water Supply in Niger (SPEN) and the Niger water supply utility (SEEN) which operates under a lease contract to SPEN and is in partnership with an international private operator. The policy also separated urban and rural water service. The Ministry of Water retains overall responsibility for sector coordination. Rural water service is decentralized and is the responsibility of the communities which have set-up user associations and village water committees to operate and maintain their water systems. These smaller water service providers serve the majority of Niger’s population since more than 80% of the country’s population lives in rural or peri-urban areas .
In 2017, the development of the National Action Plan for Integrated Water Resources Management (PANGIRE) has been in line with the reform process started in the water sector in Niger almost a decade ago. Another major actions is the adoption of the Ordinance No. 2010-09 of April 1, 2010 on the "Water Code of Niger". Through this law, the Government of the Republic of Niger has chosen IWRM as an approach to sustainable management of its water resources, already enshrined in Article 100 of the Constitution of November 25, 2010. The Water Code specifies that water management aims to ensure sustainable, equitable and coordinated use of water resources, guided in particular by "a comprehensive and integrated approach to water resources, by Water Management Unit or aquifer system known as Integrated Water Resources Management (IWRM) .
At the regional level, Niger is a member country of Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), which vision is to create a borderless region where the population has access to its abundant resources and is able to exploit those through the creation of opportunities under a sustainable environment .
At the transboundary basin level, Niger is a member of the following basin organizations: the Niger Basin Authority Basin Authority (NBA) and the Lake Chad Basin Commission (LCBC), as well as the Sahara and Sahel Observatory Sahara and Sahel Observatory (OSS). These international organizations have a legal and strategic arsenal of instruments, as well as regional and transboundary strategic and operational planning transboundary documents for sustainable management and development of the basins. These include in particular: the Ouagadougou Declaration on IWRM, adopted during the West African Conference on IWRM held in Ouagadougou (Burkina Faso) from 3 to 5 March 1998; the West African Regional IWRM Action Plan (PAR-IWRM/WA), adopted in December 2000 by the ECOWAS Heads of State and Government in Bamako, Mali; the Regional Water Resources Policy for West Africa, adopted by the Heads of the ECOWAS Heads of State in 2008, following the Additional Act A/SA.5/12/08 adopting the West African Water Resources Policy (Abuja, Nigeria); the Niger Basin Water Charter, adopted following Decision No. 2 of the 8th Summit of Heads of State and Government of NBA, held on April 30, 2008 in Niamey (Niger Republic); the Lake Chad Basin Water Charter, adopted on April 30, 2010 by the 14th Summit of Heads of State and Government of the Lake Chad Basin Commission Chad Basin Commission (N'Djamena, Chad).
The Ministries in charge of water issues are the Ministry of Hydraulics, Environment and the Fight Against Desertification (MHE/FAD), responsible, among other things, for water and natural resources management as well as of policies, strategies and implementation of projects; and the Ministry of Water, in charge of WSS service policies, coordination, strategies and of setting water rates .
Initiatives and Development Plans
The implementation of PANGIRE is planned to cover the period from 2017 to 2030. It is based on 40 actions, structured in 3 Programs. The total cost of Niger's PANGIRE is estimated at 74.36 billion FCFA and its overall objective is to define the national water resources management framework and to serve as an operational tool for the implementation of the National Water Policy, while allowing for better integration of the planned actions of the various sectoral and inter-sectoral water strategies and programs . The implementation of the PANGIRE is articulated around three successive five-year phases representing the following three horizons: 2017 - 2020 (short term), 2021 - 2025 (medium term) and 2026 – 2030 (long term) ..
UNICEF is also working in the country, mainly supporting the Government of Niger and partners in the development and operationalization of sectoral policies and strategies for improving people’s access to safe drinking water, hygiene and sanitation. UNICEF is actively involved in the political dialogue and the coordination of the sector as well as the consultation between Government and Partners. More specifically, it aims at contributing to the implementation of the National WASH programme (PROSEHA 2016-2030), at promoting change of social norms, individual and community behaviors to commit to ending open defecation and to maintaining good hygiene and sanitation practices as well as strengthening of municipal capacities in planning, implementation, monitoring and evaluation, and accountability for enhancing development and sustainable access to water and sanitation services .
Goals and Ambitions
The project to develop and implement the PANGIRE in Niger is part of the African Water Vision 2025, which includes improving water resources management, meeting urgent water needs and strengthening basic investments. The preparation and implementation of the PANGIRE, which is the subject of this support, aims to strengthen the water resources management framework in Niger . The specific objectives of the PANGIRE express the operationalization of the strategic orientations to reach the global objective. For the period 2015 to 2030, the specific objectives of the PANGIRE are the following :
- Improve knowledge and monitoring of water resources and their uses;
- To improve the mobilization and development of water resources to satisfy economic uses economic uses;
- To improve equitable and sustainable access of populations to drinking water and sanitation facilities, taking into account gender issues;
- Improve good governance of the water sector;
- Protect and preserve the environment and build resilience to the effects of climate change
- Improving the monitoring and evaluation (M&E) system;
- Building the capacity of key agencies in the sector;
- Strengthening the performance of the sector in terms of cost-recovery;
- Promoting the sanitation leadership role of the National Water and Sanitation Commission (CNEA).
 UNICEF. Water, Sanitation and Hygiene. Challenges – Niger.
 Ministère de l'hydraulique et de l'assainissement du Niger, Studi International (2017). Elaboration et Mise en Œuvre du Plan d'Action National de Gestion Intégrée des Ressources en Eau (PANGIRE) et ses Annexes.
 ECOWAS. Basic Information. [Online]. Available at: https://ecowas.int/about-ecowas/basic-information/