© UNICEF/NYHQ2008-1312/Asselin

Jeanne Kahindo shelters 12 displaced people in addition to her own family in Goma, Democratic Republic of the Congo. Global recession, deep-seated poverty and increased food prices throughout the region are exacerbating already high malnutrition rates.

Critical Issues for Children and Women

In addition to the countries in West and Central Africa that appear separately in the Humanitarian Action Report 20101 hereafter, additional funds are also requested within the region to address smaller-scale emergencies or post-conflict transitions in Benin, Cameroon, Congo, Ghana, Guinea-Bissau, Liberia, Mali and Togo.  The current global financial crisis coupled with higher food prices, seasonal shortages of crops and reduced demand for raw materials are exacerbating acute malnutrition rates and jeopardizing any gains in human development in the region, especially among the poorest and most vulnerable people. Further, a number of countries in West Africa countries are increasingly facing challenges posed by climatic hazards, in particular flooding. With flooding comes outbreaks of infectious diseases such as cholera, measles, meningitis and polio, to which children are extremely susceptible without immunization or sufficient safe water, sanitation and hygiene.  In other areas, drought is pushing up the number of army worms (a pest that can wreak havoc in crops) and locust infestations, contributing to food shortages and consequently widespread undernutrition. 

Planned Humanitarian Action for 2010

While the impacts of the global food and financial crisis are expected to increase overall levels of malnutrition in the region, the UNICEF Regional Office is also planning for a growing number of displaced people and refugees as a result of an expected increase in drought, flooding and other climate shocks throughout 2010.  UNICEF will partner with governments, United Nations agencies, NGOs and academic or technical institutions for the prevention of disease outbreaks and acute malnutrition among children through technical support for UNICEF’s cluster leadership accountabilities, emergency preparedness and emergency response capacity-building and logistics and stockpiling of essential items. Following are the expected results of UNICEF’s emergency interventions.

Health and Nutrition: Preparedness for meningitis epidemics is vital for the region to avoid the occurrence of a large outbreak and its spreading to other countries. Due to the recurrence of this disease every year, the establishment of vaccine stocks and antibiotics are essential.  Further, a mobilization strategy combining prevention and treatment implemented in the months before the hunger season will help to address the seasonal peak of acute malnutrition in the region.  Health and nutrition interventions will be prioritized in Cameroon, Congo, Ghana, Guinea-Bissau, Liberia and Mali.

Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH): The Regional Office will continue to concentrate on cholera risk reduction and integrating WASH interventions into nutritional emergency responses. The UNICEF-led WASH Cluster will also ensure a quick and coordinated response to rapid onset emergencies with a specific focus on cholera outbreak control.  Benin, Congo, Ghana, Guinea-Bissau, Liberia and Mali will include WASH activities as part of their emergency programme.

Education: All 24 countries in West and Central Africa with UNICEF offices will benefit from participating in training programmes for frontline emergency responders and government education officials, as devised jointly by UNICEF, Save the Children and other partners. Country offices will also receive support for education in emergencies preparedness and response strategy development, while documentation and evaluations will provide model formats and resources for replication and adaptation within and outside the region.  Additional emergency education activities will be undertaken in Cameroon, Congo, Ghana, Guinea-Bissau, Liberia and Mali.

Child Protection: UNICEF will strengthen the effectiveness of child protection mechanisms in protracted emergencies, post-conflict transition periods and emergency preparedness and response through improved coordination of Child Protection sub-clusters.  Support will also be provided for the training of armed forces in child protection (in collaboration with Save the Children), follow-up of the United Nations Security Council Resolutions 1612 and 1882, and for cross-border meetings regarding gender-based violence.  Additional activities will be undertaken in Cameroon, Congo, Ghana, Guinea-Bissau and Liberia.

HIV/AIDS: In Cameroon, UNICEF will collect information on HIV/AIDS-related risks among refugees and will provide HIV prevention information and treatment to youth and pregnant women, where needed. Training in responding to gender-based violence in emergencies will also be provided for health centre staff and community volunteers.  In Guinea-Bissau, UNICEF’s efforts will support expansion of voluntary HIV testing, counselling and Preventing Mother-to-Child Transmission services and peer education of adolescents and young people. In Mali, UNICEF will work to improve HIV services for those affected by emergencies, especially vulnerable adolescents and pregnant women, to include Preventing Mother-to-child Transmission programmes, care and treatment for those living with HIV and counselling and testing services for survivors of sexual violence. In terms of prevention, the focus will be on adolescents, as the primary targets of mass media HIV prevention campaigns.

Emergency Preparedness and Response: UNICEF country offices in the region undertaking contingency planning will have improved emergency preparedness and response mechanisms through the development of a regional surge capacity for rapid deployment of experienced emergency staff and a Regional Emergency Rapid Response Fund for the initial emergency response phase and planning.  Additionally, UNICEF will provide support for strengthening national emergency preparedness and response capacities through UNICEF-led inter-agency emergency simulation exercises at the country level. UNICEF will also enhance response capacity in the Central Africa sub-region, particularly emergency operations in Cameroon, Central African Republic and Chad with a supply hub for essential stocks, and will provide substantial technical assistance to the supply and logistics needs of country offices.  Additional preparedness and response activities will be implemented in Benin, Burkina Faso and Togo.

Summary of UNICEF Emergency Needs to fulfil
Core Commitments for Children for 2010
Sector US$
Health and Nutrition 12,968,300
Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) 9,286,000
Education 4,350,000
Child Protection 3,699,000
HIV/AIDS 1,100,000
Emergency Preparedness and Response 8,622,000
Total 40,025,300

1 Central African Republic, Chad, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Guinea, Mauritania and Niger appear as separate chapters in the Humanitarian Action Report 2010.