Less Is More in Niger

They say the simplest solution is often the best one. That is the hope of Nigerien officials and members of the international community who are betting on voluntary family planning programs to combat the myriad social and economic problems threatening the future of the West African nation.

Widespread poverty, malnourishment, access to education and employment, and a dwindling amount of arable land are just a few of the pressing challenges facing the home of the world's fastest growing population. This is the same country that must address rising extremism and security threats from across its borders with neighboring Mali, Nigeria and Libya.

To address these pressing challenges, the government of Niger, with backing from the United States and United Nations Population Fund, has made supporting and funding family planning activities a priority, setting a goal to double the proportion of Nigerien women who use modern contraception methods by 2015.

Jennifer Koons travels to the capital, Niamey, and the Tillabery region to meet with the young women who must decide what participating in these programs—and deciding to have fewer children—will mean for them.

Marriage in Niger: Samira's Shadow

The teacher at the Koranic school described the young woman as “calm and obedient,” ideal marriage material. Samira Abdoulaye, 19, did not return the sentiment.