Niger: Infrastructure

Climate change is expected to significantly affect infrastructure in Niger through extreme weather events. High precipitation amounts can lead to the flooding of roads, while high temperatures can cause roads, bridges and protective structures to develop cracks and degrade more quickly. This will require earlier replacement and lead to higher maintenance and replacement costs. Roads serve communities to trade goods and access healthcare, education, credit and other services. The absence of railways, low navigability of the Niger River and a limited number of airport facilities increase Niger’s reliance on road transportation [26]. Overall, Niger has one of the lowest road densities in Africa with 13 km/1 000 km² [27]. Investments will have to be made to build climate-resilient road networks.

Extreme weather events will also have devastating effects on human settlements and economic production sites, especially in urban areas with high population densities like Niamey, Zinder or Maradi. Informal settlements are particularly vulnerable to extreme weather events: Makeshift homes are often built in unstable geographical locations including steep slopes or river banks, where flooding can lead to loss of housing, contamination of water, injury or death. Dwellers usually have a low adaptive capacity to respond to such events due to high levels of poverty and lack of risk-reducing infrastructures. For example, heavy rains during the 2019 rainy season caused flooding in several localities across Niger, affecting 256 000 people (67 % in the regions of Maradi, Zinder and Agadez) and leaving 22 000 houses destroyed [28]. In the 1998-2014 period, a total of 1.6 million people were affected by flooding in Niger [29]. Flooding and droughts will also affect hydropower generation: Niger is currently investing in hydropower projects including the construction of the Kandadji Dam on the Niger River. However, variability in precipitation and climatic conditions could severely disrupt hydropower generation.

Projections of river flood events are subject to substantial modelling uncertainty, largely due to the uncertainty of future projections of precipitation amounts and their spatial distribution, affecting flood occurrence (see also Figure 4). While the absolute value of 0.14 % is small to begin with, median projections still indicate more than a doubling of national road exposure to floods by mid-century (Figure 12). Although median projections decline again towards the end of the century, they are subject to high modelling uncertainty with the very likely range indicating that road exposure to floods can settle anywhere between a threefold increase and a twofold decrease by 2080 (from 0.07–0.4 % in 2000 to 0.03–1.3 % in 2080). Similarly, median projections of urban land area exposed to floods at least once a year show almost no change (Figure 13), with a very likely range of 0.0–0.3 % by 2080 under RCP6.0. However, it should be noted that projections show the exposure of roads to river floods and exclude, for instance, exposure to floods from excessive precipitation, which is a common phenomenon in Niger, mostly due to its dry, impermeable soils and lack of vegetation [29].

Figure 12: Projections of major roads exposed to river floods at least once a year for Niger for different GHG emissions scenarios.
Figure 13: Projections of urban land area exposed to river floods at least once a year for Niger for different GHG emissions scenarios.

With the exposure of the GDP to heatwaves projected to increase from around 1.7 % in 2000 to 6 % (RCP2.6) or 11 % (RCP6.0) by 2080 (Figure 14), policy planners are strongly advised to start identifying heat-sensitive economic production sites and activities, and integrating climate adaptation strategies such as improved solar-powered cooling systems, “cool roof” isolation materials or switching the operating hours from day to night [30].”

Figure 14: Exposure of GDP in Niger to heatwaves for different GHG emissions scenarios.


[26] R. E. Namara, B. Barry, E. S. Owusu, and A. Ogilvie, “An Overview of the Development Challenges and Constraints of the Niger Basin and Possible Intervention Strategies,” Colombo, Sri Lanka, 2011.
[27] C. Domínguez-Torres and V. Foster, “Niger’s Infrastructure: A Continental Perspective,” Washington, D.C., 2011.
[28] OCHA, “Niger: Situation des inondations,” Niamey, Niger, 2019.
[29] E. Fiorillo and V. Tarchiani, “A Simplified Hydrological Method for Flood Risk Assessment at Sub-Basin Level in Niger,” in Renewing Local Planning to Face Climate Change in the Tropics, M. Tiepolo, A. Pezzoli, and V. Tarchiani, Eds. Cham: Springer Nature, 2017, pp. 247–263.
[30] M. Dabaieh, O. Wanas, M. A. Hegazy, and E. Johansson, “Reducing cooling demands in a hot dry climate: A simulation study for non-insulated passive cool roof thermal performance in residential buildings,” Energy Build., vol. 89, pp. 142–152, 2015.