Sahel : Report on 2013 Humanitarian Operations - Burkina Faso, Chad, the Gambia, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Cameroon, Nigeria and Senegal, July 2014

from UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
Published on 31 Jul 2014


Coming in the wake of the 2012 food crisis, the Sahel continued to face major humanitarian challenges in 2013. For the hundreds thousands of households who were hit hard in 2012, the effects of the crisis were not so quickly erased. Too many continued to live in a state of everyday emergency, struggling to rebuild their livelihoods and battling to not slide further into impoverishment. Disasters, epidemics, chronic food insecurity and malnutrition continued to make up the daily reality for millions. Conflicts inside the region and on its outskirts compounded precarious living conditions, uprooted millions from their homes and strained the livelihoods of some of the region’s poorest communities.

Donors were once more generous in their support to the Sahel, providing USD$ 1.4 billion worth of humanitarian assistance to the region in 2013, enabling over a hundred partner organisations to carry out humanitarian programmes across the 9 countries of the Sahel in 20131. Owing to our collective efforts, millions of children were rescued from malnutrition, vaccinated against life threatening diseases and able to access education. Families on the move were sheltered and provided with help. Parents were assisted with food or livelihoods to provide for their families.

Behind each of the 235 humanitarian projects carried out across the Sahel in 2013 there was at least one – and likely more - donor agreement against which agencies produced individual project progress reports. This relatively short document does not aim to duplicate those, but rather complement them with a birds-eye view of the overall humanitarian effort in 2013 carried out collectively by these hundreds of humanitarian organisations, large and small, across the nine countries through the funding provided in 2013. It offers a snapshot of the scope and breadth of the humanitarian footprint in the Sahel: How many people received assistance in each of the main sectors? How many were we unable to reach - for one reason or another- and what happened to those we were unable to assist?

Beyond achievements, the document also points out some of the main challenges faced by our teams and how they adapted to them. Despite good donor support, funding shortfalls remained the main operational constraint, challenging our ability to ensure that life-saving responses were coupled with early interventions, mitigating the impact of a crisis as it deepens, or addressing issues such as malnutrition or food insecurity in a more integrated fashion. The timing of financial contributions also fell behind the needs of the Sahel at times, where seasonal risks create predictable and cyclical stresses. Ongoing and new conflicts also affected humanitarian access to many in need and increased the cost of humanitarian action.

The scale of the needs and funding requirements for the Sahel have increased over recent years. This reflects the chronic nature of the Sahel’s spiraling vulnerabilities. In the circumstances, it is important that lessons from 2013 inform current and future responses, as we continue to embark on collective efforts to save lives and strengthen the livelihoods of those on the brink of crisis in the Sahel.

Behind the figures and numbers featured in this document, are thousands of humanitarian workers many of whom are operating in extremely difficult conditions to reach the Sahel’s most vulnerable households. I salute their courage and commitment, as well as thank those who support them.

Robert Piper
Regional Humanitarian Coordinator for the Sahel
Dakar, Senegal

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