Life in Niger in the time of COVID-19

Below is a glimpse into how life in Niger has changed since the arrival of COVID-19.

Using masks…

Before the pandemic, it cost only 100 CFA (West African franc) for a mask ($1CDN Dollar = $433 CFA). But as soon as the Government announced the first case of Covid-19 in Niger, the cost increased to 500. The following day it jumped to 750, then 1000. Soon after, it was impossible to find masks in any of the pharmacies. 

Since it has become so serious, people have started making their own — but because of the conditions they are being made under, they’re not very safe. The cost of a locally-made mask  is around 300 to 500 CFA.

women on the road don't care

Today, fewer than 1% of people are using a mask in Liboré.

It’s not easy to purchase masks for all members of the family as the priority is on food. Today, fewer than 1% of people are using a mask in Liboré. In Niamey, 20 to 30% are using a mask because they can easily purchase them and there are government protocols in place on wearing masks in public places (supermarkets, markets etc..).


Effects on food…

Only 1% of Nigeriens are able to stay at home and have enough food for their family.

99% of Nigerians get what they eat on the same day they are working. So, if they don’t go to work one day, they will not have food.


The fact that the borders are closed has made everything very expensive. Many families have changed their eating habits because of this.

It’s difficult not to share germs because people eat from the same plate, and drink water and tea in the same glass without washing them with soap, but many are trying to do what they can.

people are at home but no masque and they are using the same bol for drinking watter or tea


Trying to keep our distance…


One small example of people observing social distancing

The Government has asked people to not pray together and to not visit the mosque, and taxis must not take more than 3 people at a time. All ceremonies and training have also been suspended.

Niamey has been closed for the past three weeks. No one can enter or leave — which has had a big effect on the country’s business.. 


Many people are still visiting the local market

The Government wanted to close all markets, but they know that people need to visit the market to buy what they are going to eat each day.

In the bank, there is a hangar that people must wait under before entering — it gives a bit of shade, but on “pay-days” the wait time to enter could be over an hour.

even if Niamey is cloosed, inside of the town, people are free to conduct their works.

The streets are pretty empty these days…

Electricity companies can’t cover 30% of the country and in the few families who can get electricity, many of them are not able to buy a fridge to store food.


New modes of transportation…

Due to the closed borders, there is a new mode of transportation. People are coming to this country because of Ramadan and also because of the rainy season — which they don’t want to miss, because it’s one of the only times they can get food for their family. Now that the borders have been closed, people have been taking bicycles from places like the Ivory Coast or from Ghana to come to Niger, usually in groups of 5-7. So it’s not uncommon these days to see someone travelling over 1000km on a bicycle. 

Since they limit the number of people in public transportation, motorbikes are now available for hire. Instead of paying 1000 CFA to be transported by car, the cost to travel by motorbike is 4000 CFA to go the same distance — 4 times the price!


…And that’s the latest update from our community. Wishing everyone safety and health in these unprecedented times!

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