Several countries in West and Central Africa have entered a third wave of the COVID-19 pandemic with case numbers rising to their highest levels since the start of the outbreak. Continued disruptions to essential services remain a challenge.
Supporting the continuation of nutrition services in the context of COVID19 remains difficult, as COVID-19 has created barriers to communitybased activities carried out by Community Health Workers including early SAM screening and prevention activities for Infant and Young Child Feeding (IYCF).
Schools have re-opened with many countries offering catch up classes to student over the summer. UNICEF continues to scale-up WASH in schools to promote good health and hygiene.
Following the declaration of an Ebola outbreak in Guinea, UNICEF stepped up preparedness activities in six neighbouring countries (Cote d'Ivoire, Liberia, Sierra Leone, Guinea-Bissau, Mali, and Senegal), where approximately 40 million people under 18 years of age were at risk. On 19 June 2021 Guinea was officially declared Ebola-Free.
The security context has further deteriorated in the first six months of 2021. Non-state armed groups have expanded their area of operations especially in the Lake Chad Basin and the Sahel.
Situation in Numbers
57 million children in need of humanitarian assistance in WCAR (2021 OCHA HNO/HRP of 8 countries and 2021 UNICEF HAC for 12 countries)
350,820 new COVID-19 cases from January to June 2021 (twofold increase) in WCAR 1.4% case fatality rate in WCAR (consolidated data from WHO, MoH as of 30 June)
UNICEF Appeal 2021: US$ 70.5 million
Situation Overview & Humanitarian Needs
Since the beginning of 2021, the region has continued to experience major public health emergencies. The COVID-19 pandemic, affecting all 24 countries of West and Central Africa Region (WCAR), has shown an upward trend since January 2021, marking the second wave of the pandemic in the region. As of 30 June 2021, a cumulative total of 688,775 COVID-19 confirmed cases and 9,933 related deaths (case fatality rate- CFR: 1.44 per cent) have been reported. SARSCoV2 variants of concern are circulating across the region, with the Alpha variant (B.1.1.7) being predominant in WCAR as of 30 June 2021.
During the reporting period, Guinea’s Nzerekore region experienced a resurgence of the Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) from February to June 2021 with a cumulative total of 23 cases (16 confirmed cases and 7 probable cases) and 12 deaths (CFR: 52.1 per cent). A growing number of circulating vaccine-derived poliovirus type 2 (cVDPV2) cases and measles, as well as cholera outbreaks, were also reported in several countries.
The security context in West and Central Africa has further deteriorated in the first six months of 2021, impacting civilians and humanitarian activities. Non-state armed groups have expanded their area of operations, with several direct attacks against the UN, INGO and local partners especially in the Lake Chad Basin and the Sahel. Insecurity is also on the rise Cote d’Ivoire, where hostilities have increased compared to the same period last year.
All 24 UNICEF Country Offices in the region have received technical support from UNICEF’s Regional Office to update their risk analysis and preparedness plans. A total of 29 emergency preparedness workshops were carried out between January to June 2021. Following the declaration of the Ebola outbreak in Guinea, UNICEF stepped up preparedness activities in six neighbouring countries (Cote d'Ivoire, Liberia, Sierra Leone, Guinea-Bissau, Mali, and Senegal), where approximately 40 million people under the age of 18 were assessed to be at risk. Preparedness measures for the response in neighbouring countries included the vaccination of close to 3,000 frontline workers, 11,000 individuals living in high risk areas, as well as the scale up of health, risk communication, Infection Prevention Control (IPC) and WASH and psychosocial care activities in communities, schools, and healthcare facilities. These activities, funded in part by the UN’s Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF) are reaching 2,047,804 women, 1,748,024 men, and 4,355,778 children. In the coastal countries of Togo, Ghana, Benin, Côte d'Ivoire and Guinea, a further deterioration of the security context have also triggered dedicated investment into preparedness efforts. Since February, 21 workshops on emergency preparedness have been organized with Ghana, Togo, and Benin country and Cote d’Ivoire field offices. Drawing on these trainings, UNICEF is now adapting programmes to better integrate identified risks and establishing early warning systems based on sub-regional conflict dynamics. UNICEF continues to lead coordination mechanisms for emergency at both country and regional level. In the regional hub of Dakar, this includes leadership of the child protection, education, nutrition, resilience, risk communication and community engagement (RCCE) and WASH working groups.