Niger Weather and Climate
The Republic of Niger is a landlocked country and mostly desert and semi-desert; the Sahara makes up a significant proportion of the country’s area. It is bordered by Mali and Burkina Faso in the west, Benin and Nigeria in the south, Chad in the east, and Libya and Algeria in the north.
In order to be able to assess the enormous extent of the desert areas, the view of a physical map gives a good impression. The aerial photo shows the barreness of the largely semi-arid country. In order to get an impression of the population density of some regions and other, almost deserted areas of Niger, interactive maps are recommended. Because the numbers of the population density of about 19 people / km² are not meaningful for Niger. A regional map also shows the network of connections between the various rooms.
Various current thematic maps can be found at ReliefWeb, including topics such as (natural) disasters, disease epidemics, the refugee situation in the west of the country (Malian border area) and in the east of the country (Diffa region) and the Nigerian border area.
The FAO maps give a good overview of the agriculturally usable area, population distribution, amounts of precipitation, temperatures and the like.
Niger is characterized by a dry and hot climate, which has great differences in day and night temperatures – especially in the north. In the Sahara there is often no rain for years (the annual average rainfall is less than 50 mm). During the day temperatures can reach 50 °C and at night in winter they can drop below the freezing point. In the south the climate is hot and humid in the rainy season.
There are three different climatic and vegetation zones:
- the full desert (Téneré) with an arid climate and irregular rainfall
- the Sahel zone with periodic summer rain between 100 and 400 mm of precipitation per year (semi-arid and savanna-like)
- and the transition area to the Sudan zone in the south and southwest with over 500 mm of rain.
The cool season lasts from December to February; thereafter the temperature rises rapidly to peak in May of 46-48 °C and more. During this time, short rains fall in the south (“pluie des mangues”) until the rainy season begins in June. It lasts until September. Interesting maps for the years 1970 – 1990 can be found in the Atlas of Natural and Agronomic Resources of Niger and Benin of the University of Hohenheim. The considerable differences in rainfall in quantity and quality clearly show how fragile agriculture, especially arable and field cultivation, which is practiced as rain-fed agriculture, is in Niger.
As a result of heavy precipitation, flooding can occur, which affects the dry regions considerably. Floods affect the lowlands of the Niger River almost every year. On August 26, 2017, 118mm of precipitation in Niamey caused the destruction of hundreds of homes. On June 15, 2017, there was even more precipitation at 130 mm / m² than a year earlier (June 17, 2016: 120 mm / m²). At that time, however, it hit the arid region of Tassara in the pastoral zone. In 2015, the majority of the people living here who are at risk of homelessness received early support. The balance sheet for 2017 was again many dead and homeless; Hundreds of thousands were again affected by the precipitation in 2018.
Primarily, however, the population of Niger suffers from a lack of water. It is not just the absolute amount of precipitation that is the problem, but the intensity, frequency and, for agriculture, the distance and time of the falling rain showers.