Stay safe & healthy
Niger is politically unstable and lawlessness is widespread. The latest coup d'état in early 2010 increased the unstable situation and every traveller should follow independent news closely and stay in contact with their embassy. Vicious and sadistic Al-Qaeda and Boko Haram members are present in Niger and have kidnapped and killed many, so it is essential to know the off-limit regions and avoid them
In the region north of Agadez, there have been many carjackings, kidnappings and robberies in the past sixteen or so years. The problem continues to this day, and tourists should consider the area essentially lawless. You should not venture beyond Agadez even if you have a guide and a 4x4 vehicle unless you seriously know what you are doing. The roads past this point are of terrible quality and bandits are abundant.
Avoid driving late at night in a private vehicle. Occasionally armed robbers will operate near the town of Galmi (central Niger) and around Dosso-Doutchi (in western Niger), as well as on the road to Gao, Mali in the Tillabery region. Normally, there are police checkpoints on the main highways which limit criminal activities during the day.
The main annoyances you are likely to meet are young boys shouting "Anasara," which means 'foreigner' in most local languages, derived from the Arabic word. You will also be asked for a 'cadeau' pretty much every time you see a person outside your hotel. The word is French for 'gift,' and it is best to remember not to perpetuate the misery this word causes to foreigners working in the country.
In Niamey the safety level is better. If you stay away from markets after dark and use taxis and are EXTRA careful to avoid where the streets cross ravines, you shouldn't run into any problems. In markets there is a risk of pickpockets or handbag straps being cut but you are more likely to lose money by haggling poorly and in French.
Carrying a backpack and camera, looking like a tourist, and especially being white, will definitely draw some unwanted attention. Most of the attention is from people who try to get your money legally, either by selling you a toothbrush or by begging, but there are always a few less honest people.
The Centers for Disease Control is an excellent resource for authoritative advice on health issues for travellers to Niger.
Drink lots and lots of water while in Niger because the dry heat will dehydrate you and you won't realize it. It is the best preventative step you can take. Bottled water or water sealed in a bag (called pure-wata) is available in most of the cities but in a pinch, city tap water is well-chlorinated (this is according to one traveller; another American who lived in Niger for two years says never drink unfiltered water anywhere! — that includes ice!). Be particularly wary of well water, stream water, and rural water.
Be sure to replenish your salts as well as liquids.
Wear loose conservative clothes, big hats, and lots of sunscreen. If in doubt, wear what the locals wear.
Malaria, including encephaletic malaria, is a problem, and is chloroquine resistant in Niger. Take your prophylaxes, use heavy-duty insect repellent (DEET is best, though nasty), and consider carrying a mosquito net to sleep under.
Giardia and amoebic dysentery are common. Be wary of any roadside food, unless you buy it hot off the grill. Even items fried in oil could make you sick if the oil has been heavily used and is old. Best to avoid salads and uncooked veggies. Also, never drink unfiltered water (including ice).
Schistosomiasis is present in most water bodies in Niger, so travellers should avoid going in the water everywhere — except chlorinated swimming pools.
In case you were unable to stay healthy, the Clinique Pasteur (situated in front of the Lycée Fontaine) has clean facilities, sterile needles, and competent, sympathetic doctors. The Clinique Gamkalley and many other clinics are around, however, you may need to watch out for dirty needles, over-prescription and aggressive staff.