Abstract To obtain a basis for a proper development of improved soil management methods in the West African Sahel, soil and rainfall characteristics of a millet growing area close to Niamey, Niger were determined. In laboratory tests, the coarse sandy soil of the area shows a mechanical behavior which is extremely dependent on the moisture content at the time of soil handling. Therefore, the workability range is very narrow. Rainfall in this region is aggressive; even small storms may fall with high intensities. In the region studied, the number of days available for planting millet is extremely small, on average around 11 for the season. Therefore, time-efficient soil preparation and planting methods are required.