Credit: WRI








The second poorest nation in the world, Niger faces a host of complex development issues.

Located at the southern edge of the Sahara desert, Niger’s overwhelmingly rural and agrarian population confronts frequent droughts and chronic food insecurity. 

These factors have also led to a rise in land-use and natural resource-based conflicts, which successive governments have attempted to address since the country gained independence from France in 1960.

Under the French colonial government, all trees were State property, and farmers who felled or pruned trees, or sold tree products, could be fined or even imprisoned. Beginning in the 1990s, new laws and regulations strengthened local people's rights to benefit from trees. This inspired farmers to re-grow trees and other natural vegetation on their farms, which revitalized depleted soil and brought economic benefits to millions of people. 

Niger’s Constitution asserts the right of all individuals to own property, and protects a variety of land-use rights. 


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The 1993 Rural Code recognizes and allows the registration of customary rights to land, and provides women and men with equal rights to land and other natural resources.  Urban land rights are allocated by the government in the form of use rights, which the State regulates. Vacant lands are owned by the State. 

While this legislation has been broadly positive, more remains to be done.  Multiple and overlapping land use laws have exacerbated conflicts by creating layers of contradictory land rights, and confusion over what rights can be registered.  In addition, those with less power to assert claims under customary and statutory rights, such as women and pastoralists, are particularly at risk of losing their land rights. Meanwhile, local institutions lack the capacity to implement and manage land registration. 

Many steps have been taken to improve land tenure security in Niger. Since the early 1980s, the Government of Niger and its development partners have invested more than 200 billion West African Francs in programs to promote more than 50 sustainable land management and other activities to reduce poverty and vulnerability. In addition, reforestation efforts to combat desertification are underway.

Niger infographic

Total population 16,068,994
Rural population / rural poverty rate 13,197,721.9/63.9%
Share of women in agriculture 37.79%
Urban population / urban poverty rate 2,871,272/36.7%
Internally displaced People 6,500
Total land area / Agricultural land as % of total 1,266,700/34.56%
Protected areas (as % of total land) 7.06%
Forested land (as % of total) 0.9407%
Annual deforestation rate 1.9%
Land rights and access rating N/A
Time required to register property (days) N/A
Women's ownership rights 1.0%
Large-scale land holdings 29,969
GDP per capita (current USD) 374.44
Agriculture as % of GDP N/A
Natural resource income as % of GDP 2.439%
Major natural resources Uranium, coal, iron ore, tin, phosphates, gold, molybdenum, salt, petroleum
Tourism as share of GDP 1.7%