NIGER AT A GLANCE
WHERE IS NIGER (Officially, the Republic of Niger)
Located in West Africa, Niger covers 1,267,000 square kilometers of land.
WHAT IS THE CAPITAL OF NIGER?
Niamey is the capital and largest city
WHAT IS THE OFFICIAL LANGUAGE OF NIGER?
French. The largest other linguistic group spoken is Hausa.
WHAT IS THE RELIGION OF NIGER?
Roughly 85 percent of the population adheres to the Sunni branch of Islam. Christianity remains a religion of the towns, particularly of Niamey. The traditional animist religions of Africans continue to manifest themselves in strength.
WHAT IS THE LITERACY RATE OF NIGER?
Overall adult literacy rate for Niger is 19.1 %. The country’s women are even more disadvantaged. Only nine percent of Nigerien women are literate. Only 61 percent of Nigeriens attend primary school.
WHAT IS THE ECONOMY OF NIGER LIKE?
The economy of Niger centres on subsistence agriculture, animal husbandry, re-export trade, and export of uranium. In 1994 exports of livestock, cowpeas, onions, and small cotton industry were boosted. The government relies on bilateral and multilateral aid for operating expenses and public investment. Short-term prospects depend on continued World Bank and IMF debt relief and extended aid.
OTHER FACTS ABOUT NIGER
It is a semi-arid climate in the south savanna. The summer brings the African monsoon and with it humidity and clouds. In June, the rainfall averages 3 inches and the temperatures vary from 81-100 °F.
Unfortunately Niger chronically suffers from drought, making fresh produce scarce and erratic. Millet is a versatile grain that originated in Africa, The millet is pounded into flour by women and girls and often made into a paste or stiff porridge dough and covered with a stew or a sauce. A traditional dish is called efo which is a mixed stew with green vegetables, cooked with chicken, fish, or goat meat. The traditional vegetables eaten alongside dishes are yams or cassava. Stews are served with a base of millet, usually, or rice or couscous. If bread is served it is crusty bread instead of the usual flatbreads typically consumed in African countries.
CULTURAL DO’S AND DON’TS
Men, women, and children usually eat apart.
When offered a drink it is impolite to refuse. It is also unusual to eat in front of another person without offering to share.
The right hand is always extended for touching other people, handing over objects and eating, as the left hand is used for hygiene purposes.
When approaching a home clap your hands to announce your arrival.
General rules of conduct include the importance of greetings, many of which are elaborate. It is considered rude to start a conversation without first inquiring about the health and wellbeing of a person’s family.
Don’t be alone at night. It would be preferable to have a group of 3, one being a male. Don’t be in an isolated place alone with a national or with minors. When traveling on public transportation, stay close to teammates taking care not to get separated from your group. Be on guard. Always be aware of what is going on around you. Look like you know what you’re doing. Be aware of your belongings at all times. Hold your backpack in front of you on public transportation. Don’t draw unnecessary attention to yourself. Don’t carry a lot of valuables on you (expensive watches, jewelry, phones, computers, cameras, etc.) Put money in several places on you (in a pocket, in a backpack, in a money belt.) Carry a copy of your passport with you at all times. You don’t need to carry your passport every day, but make sure to put it in a safe place. Use common sense. If you’re not sure what is allowed, ask your team leader(s) or missionaries.
Currency: The currency of Niger is the CFA Franc. One dollar = 575 Francs.
Time Zone: UTC/GMT - 8 hours ahead of PST
Electrical Outlets: In Niger the power plugs and sockets are of type C, D, E and F. The standard voltage is 220 V. The adapters you will need are type D and E which will work for all of the above.
With regard to clothing, MODESTY is of EXTREME importance. Neither underwear nor midriffs may be shown. And nothing form fitting, guys or gals. No scoop neck/ low necklines for gals. Take your cues from the nationals in the varying situations you find yourself.
Work Clothing: Jeans, “scrubs,” or active wear. Yoga pants are permitted if worn with a long shirt to completely cover the rear. Closed toed, sturdy shoes. T-shirts or basic crew necks. No shorts or sleeveless/tank tops for women. Men may wear shorts. Any writing on shirts should not contain anything offensive, crude, provocative, political or inflammatory.
Casual Clothing: Nicer outfit for outings and excursions, like jeans or capris and a polo shirt or nicer crew neck.
Church/Dining Out: Church: Clean jeans with nice t-shirt or polo shirt and tennis, skate or deck shoes for men. Below knee dress/skirt with t-shirt and flip flops or sandals. Note: we don’t want to “out dress” the locals.