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Page last updated at 15:38 GMT, Thursday, 8 October 2009 16:38 UK

Niger fury at 'world's worst' tag

Residents of the city of Agadez, nothern Niger, walk in a flooded street
Niger is the largest country in West Africa

The poverty-stricken nation of Niger is hitting back after a UN report branded it the world's worst place to live.

Niger's Institute of Statistics plans to lobby the UN in New York, saying its figures did not reflect recent improvements in health and education.

A spokesman told the BBC: "If the real stats were used the rank will improve."

The UN Development Programme looked at life expectancy, education and living standards, rating Niger last out 182 countries, below war-torn Afghanistan.

Worst places to live
Niger
Afghanistan
Sierra Leone
Source: UNDP

Norway was ranked the most desirable country to live in, while some countries that might have been expected to feature low on the UN ranking were not even listed, due to insufficient data.

For instance, conflict-ravaged Somalia - which has gone almost 20 years without an effective central government - was absent, as was Haiti, the poorest country in the Americas and a nation wracked by instability.

'Mistakes'

In a news conference on Thursday, Niger's National Institute of Statistics accused the United Nations of failing to use Niger's official data, which the government said proved significant progress in fields such as education and health in recent years.

An institute spokesman, Bouzou Adamou, told the BBC: "We are just saying there are some statistics which are not the [government's] statistics that have been used.

"If the real stats were used I think the rank will be improved."

Officials added that they would send a mission to UN headquarters to see that the "mistakes" were amended.

This is not the first time the vast, desert-covered nation has been irked by its depiction by the UN.

In 2005, Niger's government accused the World Food Programme (WFP) of exaggerating fears the country could face another food crisis.

The latest UNDP figures, dating from 2007, suggest that life expectancy in Niger is 50 years - approximately 30 years shorter than for those living in Norway.

For every dollar earned per person in Niger, $85 was earned in Norway.

However, the Democratic Republic of Congo has the poorest people, where the average income per person was just $298 per year.



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SEE ALSO
Country profile: Niger
07 Apr 11 |  Country profiles
Norway 'the best place to live'
05 Oct 09 |  Special Reports
Norway country profile
08 Nov 11 |  Country profiles
Half of babies 'will live to 100'
02 Oct 09 |  Health

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