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Map of West and Central Africa Region
UNICEF photo: a group of children raising their arms in play © UNICEF Chad/ 2016 /Bahaji Children playing in the village of Tagal near the town of Bagasola in the Lake Chad region. This village of 1,300 inhabitants hosts about 700 internally displaced persons from the islands of Lake Chad who have fled insecurity and violence.

West and Central Africa

Regional Office 2017 Requirements: US$39,558,059

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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 7.7 million people in the region remain displaced due to conflict: close to 1 million people for the Central African Republic1; 3.8 million people in the Democratic Republic of the Congo2; close to 2.4 million people in the Lake Chad basin3; and more than 190,000 people due to the conflict in Mali4. 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 5.6 million children under 55 and more than 46,000 suspected measles cases and 30,900 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.

Three countries require urgent attention under this regional appeal: Republic of Congo, Burkina Faso and Mauritania.

Republic of Congo
In the aftermath of presidential elections in the Republic of Congo, the Pool department has been rocked by several attacks on government forces and civilians with escalating violence pushing more than 80,000 people out of their homes. During the past 12 months, the number of people displaced has increased six fold from 13,000 in June 2016, to over 81,000 in May 2017. One out of five children under the age of five years-old from the Pool and Bouenza departments are currently displaced and face rapidly increasing risks of severe acute malnutrition. The ongoing unrest has left over 138,000 people in need of urgent assistance. The country also hosts in Likouala region over 34,700 refugees from DRC.

Burkina Faso
In Burkina Faso, since early January 2017, the province of Soum in the Sahel region has been affected by successive threats and attacks by armed extremist groups that caused schools to close affecting over 72,500 children. In 2016, the Severe Acute Malnutrition (SAM) rate was at 1.4 per cent nationwide with three regions exceeding emergency threshold (East, South-West and Boucle du Mouhoun). The number of severely acutely malnourished is estimated at 128,868 children in 2017. Burkina Faso also hosts approximately 34,000 Malian refugees7 living in and around two camps in the Sahel Region.

In Mauritania, the average SAM rate over the past 5 years is over 1.6 per cent, with 7 regions exceeding the emergency threshold. The estimated SAM burden for 2017 is over 22,000 children. Mauritania hosts over 51,000 Malian refugees8 with more arriving due to insecurity in northern Mali.

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 life-saving 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.

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Results in 2016

As of 31 October 2016, UNICEF had received US$27 million against the US$20 million appeal.9 In 2016, WCARO provided extensive multi-sectoral support to the responses in the Lake Chad basin, the Central African Republic and to the Ebola crisis, and supported emergency responses in Benin, the Congo, the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Mali. WCARO also supported information management and preparedness in the region. Technical nutrition support was provided for the crises in the Sahel and the Lake Chad basin. UNICEF reinforced cross-border coordination and information sharing to harmonize programme interventions. A sub-regional child protection strategy was designed in the Lake Chad basin and rolled out across the countries. WCARO WASH support included cholera outbreak control measures and management of the Regional Cholera Platform. The regional Safe Schools Strategy was designed and is being implemented to provide children in emergencies with protective learning environments. This included training 2,000 education personnel and teachers on psychosocial support. Public advocacy initiatives were rolled out in 2016 to highlight the plight of children affected by humanitarian crises.

Funding requirements

For 2017, UNICEF is requesting US$ 39.5 million to provide technical support and coordination for emergency preparedness and response in the West and Central Africa region. This includes funding for ongoing crises in Burkina Faso, Mauritania and the Republic of Congo. Regional funding may also be used to respond to small- or medium-scale emergencies in the region that are not included in a separate appeal of Humanitarian Action for Children 2017. In a volatile region, many smaller countries are at risk of civil unrest and natural disasters and support is needed to scale-up preparedness and response programming. For the Lake Chad Basin crisis each country has their own appeal while the Regional Office supports multi-country programming. UNICEF gratefully acknowledges donors’ support in 2016 and welcomes their continued commitment to addressing the humanitarian needs of children and women in the region.

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1 United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, 2017.
2 Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, OCHA, June 2017 factsheet, www.humanitarianresponse.info/system/files/documents/files/drc_factsheet_trim2_2017_fr.pdf
3 Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, ‘Lake Chad Basin: Crisis overview’, OCHA, 3 October 2016, http://reliefweb.int/sites/reliefweb.int/files/resources/Lac%20Chad%20Snapshot_4%20oct%202016.pdf, accessed 26 November 2016.
4 United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, June 2017, ‘Operational update’. https://data2.unhcr.org/fr/documents/download/58610
5 Demographic Health Survey, available at http://dhsprogram.com; Multiple Indicator Cluster Survey, available at http://mics.unicef.org, National Nutrition Surveys. Please note that there are 24 countries in the region with different Demographic Health Survey and Multiple Indicator Cluster Survey years.
6 Regional Cholera Platform 2016, available at www.plateformecholera.info.
7 United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, May 2017, http://reliefweb.int/sites/reliefweb.int/files/resources/58675.pdf
8 United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, June 2017, https://data2.unhcr.org/en/country/mrt
9 Available funds included US$18.5 million received against the 2016 appeal and the US$8.7 million carried forward from 2015.