Burkina Faso + 5 more

West Africa: OCHA Monthly Situation Report Feb 2009

Situation Report
Originally published



- West Africa holds polio vaccination days

- Measles and meningitis strike in Burkina Faso

- International Contact Group holds first meeting in Guinea


While the food crisis remains a concern, the onset of epidemics of measles and meningitis in Burkina Faso, meningitis in Nigeria, yellow fever in Guinea, and the appearance of a number of polio cases in Ghana, Nigeria and Niger among others , is a reminder of the fragility of the region and of the need for governments, with assistance from humanitarian partners, to pay close attention to these disease outbreaks and augment efforts to minimize the incidence of these diseases, with at times require nothing more than proper hygiene practices. While progress has been made in a number of countries with regard to early warning and preparation, there is a need to consolidate such progress across the border and adopt a holistic approach (sufficient funding; early warning mechanisms; increase collaboration between states, among other things) to preventing epidemics in West Africa.


Food Security and nutrition

The 20008/2009 growing season in West Africa resulted in above-average harvests sufficient to meet regional demand. Cereal prices, however, did not decrease as much, or for as long as would be expected following such a harvest. As prices in the region were already above the five-year average for the period prior to the harvest, early post-harvest prices increases could lead to moderate, high, or extreme food insecurity for net consumers by the start of the June-September hunger season. In most of the region's key markets, nominal retail cereal prices in January 2009 tended to be higher than both the 5-year average and those of 2004/05, a year characterized by poor production and abnormally high cereal prices that led to a regional food crisis.

Due to high prices, many governments are having trouble fully restocking their national grain reserves, which had been depleted in 2007/08 in order to mitigate the effects of high global food prices, particularly in urban areas. Without replenishing reserves, government's ability to mitigate food insecurity in deficit areas will be limited this year.

Liberia/Côte d'Ivoire: Maintaining surveillance on worms: The pests that infested crops in Liberia are not "army worm" but a different form of caterpillar. According to experts, little is known about this particular pest that is also present in Benin and Gabon and in other parts of Liberia. The pest has existed in Nimba County but not in the large numbers seen recently. There appears to be no direct threat to food security as staple food crops such as rice, millet and sorghum have already been harvested. But cash crops have been affected which will impact purchasing power. Experts fear a secondary or tertiary emergence of the pests which are now in pupation stage. As of 2 February, 107 towns and villages were affected in 4 counties. Water and sanitation activities were undertaken in some 30 towns where about 20 wells were rehabilitated and over 1,200 jerry cans of chlorine distributed. Coordination efforts are ongoing, particularly against the backdrop that worms also appeared in western Côte d'Ivoire.

UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
To learn more about OCHA's activities, please visit https://www.unocha.org/.