Humanitarian Action for Children 2017 - West and Central Africa
Children and women in West and Central Africa remain vulnerable to multiple threats, including insecurity, conflict, drought, flooding and epidemics. In the Central African Republic and the Lake Chad basin, widespread violence and armed conflict characterized by grave human rights violations have led to mass displacement both internally and across borders. More than 6 million people in the region remain displaced due to conflict: 874,000 people in the Central African Republic; 1.9 million people in the Democratic Republic of the Congo; 2.6 million people in the Lake Chad basin; and more than 172,000 people due to the conflict in Mali. For countries such as Chad and Nigeria, the volatility has increased due to falling oil prices and declines in state revenues. Throughout the region, elections planned for 2017 may create further unrest. Across the Sahel, cyclical drought conditions and chronic food insecurity have caused alarming levels of malnutrition.
In addition, severe acute malnutrition (SAM) affects more than 6 million children under 55 and more than 46,000 suspected measles cases and 28,900 cholera cases were reported6 in the region in 2016. Cholera outbreaks continue to affect the Mano River, Lake Chad, Congo River and Niger River basins.
Regional humanitarian strategy
The West and Central Africa Regional Office (WCARO) will continue to support country offices in the region to respond to emergencies, in line with the Core Commitments for Children in Humanitarian Action. WCARO will support preparedness by monitoring risks and providing technical expertise to strengthen capacities to prepare for emergencies, emphasizing contingency planning for high-risk countries.
Partnerships for emergency response, capacity building and supply pre-positioning will be strengthened. WCARO will continue to provide multi-sectoral technical support to country offices in the areas of nutrition, health, HIV and AIDS, water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH), Communication for Development, child protection, education and emergency coordination and operations. Country offices will also receive support to respond to cholera, meningitis, measles and other epidemics. UNICEF will continue its integrated nutrition response, focusing on the crises in the Sahel and the Lake Chad basin. The priority will be the integrated management of acute malnutrition, focusing on lifesaving treatment of SAM, as well as the prevention of malnutrition through infant and young child feeding and the promotion of essential family practices. SAM treatment and prevention remains integrated into a package of interventions for health, WASH, education, promotion of essential family practices and psychosocial support. WCARO will support the strengthening of key child protection activities, focusing on cross-border and sub-regional emergency responses, particularly for the Lake Chad basin crisis. The priority will be to reach children associated with armed groups and armed forces, children in detention, and/or children who are unaccompanied and separated from their families, while providing mental health and psychosocial support. WCARO will support the implementation of the Safe Schools Strategy, provide technical guidance to country offices on protective learning environments and strengthen coordination and information management for country offices and clusters. UNICEF will maintain rapid response capacity for mapping and rapid assessment, surge staff deployments and regional supply hubs that pre-position supplies, enabling timely and cost-effective response. WCARO will also support country office capacities for monitoring and evaluation, increase the use of third-party monitoring in hard-to-reach areas and support more timely evidence-based decision making. Public advocacy efforts will continue to focus on countries in crisis to ensure that the rights and well-being of children in emergencies are at the centre of the global agenda and adequate resources are made available.