Dosso is one of the poorest and driest regions in a country that is already heavily afflicted by poverty and drought. The people in this area face many diverse challenges, and this impacts particularly heavily on the children here.
The city of Dosso is situated south-east of the country's capital, Niamey, and has a population of roughly 45,000 people. Like much of the rest of Niger, its economy is largely based around subsistence farming, livestock rearing and employment in the informal sector.
Child malnutrition is more prevalent in Niger than in any other African country, and the Dosso region is at the centre of this long-running crisis. Natural conditions are harsh and will continue to get harsher with the progression of climate change, since more and more farm land is claimed by the desert every year.
Added to this are other factors, such as swarms of locusts that destroy crops and rains that are becoming increasingly irregular. Taken together this creates a situation of extreme food insecurity. Not only does this cause famine that stunts children's physical development, but it also means that many families rely on the income children can earn, so remove them from school.
As well as food insecurity, the local population struggles with levels of poverty far above the national average. Equally worrying, are the very high levels of child mortality in the region, despite government efforts. This is closely linked to the prevalence of malaria, which accounts for approximately half of all deaths amongst children under the age of five.
The migration of much of the young, working age population to neighbouring Nigeria is a result of, but also contributies to, this difficult situation. They go seeking opportunities, but their departure makes it less and less likely that the Dosso region will be able to sustain itself. People here face a host of interrelated problems and, as is often the case, children are the worst affected.
How is SOS Children helping?
We started working in Niger around four decades ago, and in 2010, we opened an SOS Children's Village in Dosso. This relatively new Children's Village is at the heart of our efforts to help children in the region.
Our SOS social centre provides a range of services to people, such as advice and counselling from qualified staff to help poor parents cope with their difficult circumstances. Our SOS school also provides educational opportunities to around 200 children who would not otherwise have the chance of an education.
Work like this helps to build a strong and resilient community who are more able to support each other and their children. Supporting local society is, therefore, one of our primary goals in Dosso and across Niger.
The value of a mother's love
When children in the Dosso region can no longer live with their parents they can find a loving home with an SOS family. Here, they are cared for by their SOS mother and given the childhood they deserve.
These children get counselling to help them deal with the challenges they have already faced, and those they may face again in the future. They also receive medical treatment and a full education that will ensure that they have every opportunity to prosper.
Life is hard in Dosso. Families face the ravages of nature and a declining economy. We support the neediest families and build a brighter future for the region's most vulnerable children.