Cameroon continues to face conflict-related humanitarian and protection challenges. The Far North region, the most vulnerable region in Cameroon and the region hardest hit by the Lake Chad basin crisis, experienced increasing attacks at the border with Nigeria in 2017 that left more than 335,000 people, mostly women and children, displaced.1 While humanitarian access has increased in the Far North and basic services are slowly being restored, needs remain high across all sectors. An estimated 826,000 people are in need of water for drinking, cooking and hygiene purposes.2 Children who have escaped from Boko Haram urgently require protection support. Cameroon also received more than 13,000 refugees from the Central African Republic who were registered in 2017, and thousands more who are awaiting registration.3 While rates of global acute malnutrition and severe acute malnutrition (SAM) have dropped below emergency levels in all priority regions, more than 58,500 children will require treatment for acute malnutrition in 2018.4 Some 32,000 children are unable to access schools in the North West due to the Anglophone crisis and 40 schools have been burned/attacked due to the conflict.5
In 2018, UNICEF’s integrated programme will be based on four pillars: building a protective environment and supporting community peacebuilding; preventing and responding to the violent exploitation of children; increasing access to basic services; and strengthening emergency preparedness and response systems. All four pillars bridge the humanitarian-development nexus and foster community resilience to outside pressures, such as conflict or population displacement, while supporting the State to anticipate shocks. UNICEF will strengthen collaboration between community-based structures and government services to provide care and protection to children, particularly the most marginalized. By supporting community dialogue mechanisms, inter-generational dialogue and non-violent relationships among peers, UNICEF will foster social cohesion, giving children a voice and rebuilding community linkages. Recognizing that lack of access to basic services exposes children to vulnerabilities, UNICEF will support the Government to strengthen the quality of service delivery at the community level by training community workers and establishing needed infrastructure, improving access to water and sanitation in schools and health centres, developing community health mechanisms and improving the quality of education. Furthermore, UNICEF is working with non-governmental organizations and other partners to implement mechanisms for monitoring and responding to emergencies quickly.
Results from 2017
As of 31 October 2017, UNICEF had US$10.5 million available against the US$23.7 million appeal (44 per cent funded).6 Due to lack of funding, UNICEF Cameroon drew on other resources to conduct emergency programmes. UNICEF reached 66 per cent of its 2017 targets in nutrition, water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH), education and child protection. Almost all children targeted with SAM treatment were reached (55,356 out of 58,640). Nearly 39,000 beneficiaries gained access to potable water and more than 80,000 gained access to adequate sanitation. More than 70,000 children received psychosocial support and 86 per cent of targeted children accessed quality education. In the Far North region, UNICEF supported the reopening of 32 schools, enabling more than 5,800 children to access education. To strengthen programme quality, the child protection and education programmes provided an integrated response that targeted the same communities, reaching beneficiaries with holistic support. Similarly, schools were used as a point of entry for the WASH programme, with infrastructure rehabilitation and construction of sanitation facilities. Eight needs assessments were conducted in newly accessible vulnerable areas, and based on these, UNICEF responded to the immediate needs of more than 48,000 people with WASH, child protection and health services.
In line with the Cameroon 2017-2020 Humanitarian Response Plan, UNICEF is requesting US$25,461,000 to address the humanitarian needs of vulnerable children in 2018. Without this assistance, UNICEF will be unable to provide critical psychosocial and educational support for children in Cameroon affected by the crises in the Lake Chad basin and the Central African Republic. This funding will also enable UNICEF to provide life-saving water and sanitation to internally displaced persons, refugees and host community members, and support emergency preparedness and response to the growing crises facing the country.