© UNICEF/NYHQ2010-1160/Gangale

Women bring their children for nutrition screenings in Nokou, Chad. Cyclical drought, severe pressure on limited natural resources and outdated farming practices have crippled food production in the Sahel region.

Children and women in crisis

Life in West and Central Africa is marked by chronic poverty, recurring food insecurity and poor diets that have left a generation of children undernourished. Cyclical drought, severe pressure on limited natural resources and outdated farming practices cripple food production in the Sahel region; in 2010, nearly 10 million people faced a serious food crisis, while 859,000 children under 5 years old needed treatment for severe acute malnutrition.1 Natural and human-made hazards multiply these needs and have taken a toll on infrastructure and access to basic services, hastening the spread of epidemics: during 2010, cholera, meningitis, measles and polio epidemics occurred in at least 20 countries in the region. The death rate among infants and children under age 5 in West and Central Africa is the highest in the world,2 and more than a dozen countries in the region rank at the bottom levels of the Human Development Index.3

Meeting urgent needs and building resilience in 2011

UNICEF’s West and Central Africa Regional Office will continue to provide technical, coordination and planning support to help country offices assist millions of vulnerable people throughout the region. The regional office will also distribute funds to country teams in several countries to cope with ongoing, smaller-scale emergencies that nevertheless require a coordinated response and adequate resources.

Humanitarian funding at work: Highlights from 2010

UNICEF estimated that US$40,025,300 was needed to fund its humanitarian work in West and Central Africa in 2010. As of October 2010, a total of US$4,911,757 had been received, representing 12 per cent of the goal. Nonetheless, UNICEF developed regional supply hubs in Douala and Accra to ensure rapid delivery of ready-to-use therapeutic food for the Sahel nutrition crisis. Over US$1 million was raised via the Consolidated Appeals Process (CAP) to vaccinate 1,178,000 people against meningitis and increase vaccine stocks in Chad and Burkina Faso. Regional emergency funds were deployed for the first phase of flood interventions in Benin and Burkina Faso and for pre-election prepared-ness in the Central African Republic and Guinea. Regional teams provided training on minimizing school disruptions during emergencies for government and NGO partners and country office staff (Benin, Gambia, Ghana, Mauritania, Senegal, Sierra Leone and Togo) and on protecting children separated from families in displacements for police forces and government partners (Chad, Côte d’Ivoire, Ghana, Senegal, Sierra Leone and Togo).

Funding requirements for 20114

The UNICEF West and Central Africa Regional Office is requesting US$18,044,000 to provide technical support, coordination, planning and other assistance to further UNICEF’s humani-tarian response in the region. This includes US$9,751,000 to support countries not separately profiled in this Humanitarian Action for Children publication.

More information about achievements during 2010 and UNICEF’s humanitarian action planned by the West and Central Africa Regional Office in 2011 can be found at www.unicef.org/hac2011 and at the regional office website, www.unicef.org/wcaro.

1 ReliefWeb, ‘Sahel: Snapshot on the food crisis’, United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, Geneva, 19 April 2010, p. 1.
2 United Nations Children’s Fund, et al., ‘Levels & Trends in Child Mortality: Report 2010 – Estimates developed for the UN Inter-agency Group for Child Mortality Estimation’, UNICEF, New York, 2010, p. 16.
3 United Nations Development Programme, ‘International Human Development Indicators’, UNDP, New York, 2010, <http://hdr.undp.org/en/statistics>, accessed 2 December 2010.
4 Six-month Emergency Humanitarian  Action Plans (EHAP) for Liberia and for Côte d'Ivoire and neighbouring countries (Burkina Faso, Ghana, Guinea, and Mali) were launched on 14 January 2011 in response to the humanitarian consequences of the political crisis in Côte d'Ivoire. The UNICEF requirements of US$5,715,593  and US$5,696,627  through the respective EHAPs are in addition to the Humanitarian Action for Children requirements for these countries. Humanitarian needs are likely to be reviewed as inter-agency assessments are carried out and as the volatile situation changes.

UNICEF Emergency Needs for 2011 (in US dollars) Total $18,044,000