More than 102,000 school going children affected by the North West and South West crisis are attending education with a teacher trained by UNICEF in Psychosocial Support and Risk Mitigation. An estimated 86% of these children are enrolled in operational schools of the NW and SW, while the others attend education in IDP hosting schools of Littoral and West.
The number of children aged 6 to 59 months with SAM admitted for treatment exceeded the planned national target of 65,064 (NWSW crisis, Lake Chad Basin Crisis and CAR Refugee response) by reaching 79,311 children based on the implementation of more comprehensive national strategies targeting all health facilities, community level capacity building and the continuity of supply pipelines secured through alternate funding sources.
Despite continuing access challenges, UNICEF staff based in NorthWest and South-West regions conducted 17 field assessment and monitoring missions to 12 primary locations. UNICEF worked closely with OCHA and implementing partners to strengthen humanitarian access and community acceptance.
Funding Overview and Partnerships
In 2019 UNICEF appealed for US$ 39,330,695 in support of life-saving services for women and children in Cameroon. In response, CERF, DFID-UK, the Government of Japan, Swedish SIDA, the Spanish National Committee, UNICEF global humanitarian thematic funding partners, US-OFDA have generously contributed to UNICEF Cameroon humanitarian response. UNICEF expresses its sincere gratitude to all public and private donors for the contributions received. However, an unprecedented funding shortfall was recorded of 75%. This severely constrained the required response especially Child Protection, Education, WASH and Health sectors. This also had consequences for the continuity of essential staffing to assess, plan, coordinate, monitor and evaluate humanitarian response for children.
Situation Overview & Humanitarian Needs
The humanitarian situation in the North West (NW) and South West (SW) regions of Cameroon remained complex and challenging throughout the year though some improved humanitarian access was achieved. There were 92 days of movement restrictions (‘ghost towns’ and ‘Lockdowns’) combined with continuous insecurity including the kidnapping and killing of civilians and humanitarian workers which significantly challenged the ability to deliver humanitarian assistance, especially in hard to reach areas. Multi-Sectoral Needs Assessment (OCHA, August 2019) revealed that there are 450,268 Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) in these two regions (271,167 in NW and 179,101 in SW), in addition to 200,189 IDPs from the NWSW displaced in the Littoral and West regions (October 2019 MultiSectoral Initial Rapid Assessment, OCHA) and 44,247 refugees from the NWSW registered by UNHCR in Nigeria. Declining access to services such as health care and safe water led to the outbreaks of measles and cholera in the SW region. A new dimension was added to this crisis when tension rose between Fulani cattle herders, supported by security forces, and NSAGs. In December, over 12,000 people became displaced.
In late December, in response to a surge in new displacements affecting over 12,000 people and rising tensions in the NW, UNICEF prepositioned non-food items including Long Lasting Insecticidal Nets (LLINs), WASH and dignity kits, plastic tarpaulin, soaps, Acute Watery Diarrhea treatment kits and water containers to cover various needs for approximately 10,000 people.
Two partnership agreements were signed to conduct Rapid Response Mechanism-based interventions (RRM) in 2019 for NW/SW regions, with Reach Out (ReO) and Cameroon Baptist Convention Health Board (CBCHB) in the South West and North West regions respectively. The objective of RRM is to provide timely humanitarian response to targeted populations followed by more comprehensive, child-survival-based interventions. While the RRM managed to reach people in need in hard to reach areas with some success, insecurity, road blocks and lockdowns, low access and acceptance posed major challenges. Degraded road conditions in many areas along with prevailing telecoms network interruptions made communications very difficult between the RRM mobile teams.
Despite continuing access challenges, UNICEF staff based in North-West and South-West regions conducted 17 field assessment and monitoring missions to 12 primary locations. UNICEF worked closely with OCHA and implementing partners to strengthen humanitarian access and community acceptance despite challenges of the continuing conflict impacting children and women, especially in rural areas.
In the Far North Region, UNICEF maintained access and delivery to vulnerable populations affected by the continuing bloodletting of Boko Haram attacks on civilian targets, including women and children. Such attacks tripled in the 4th quarter of 2019 including a reported increase in direct attacks on Cameroon military posts, often in broad daylight— both representing new trends. In consequence, increased movement restrictions were announced by government authorities in Logone et Chari department of Far North Region. Heavy late season rains led to unusual flooding of the Logone and Chari rivers affecting upwards of 100,000 people between September and December. UNICEF Maroua field office reinforced emergency stockpiles from Douala, signed new implementation agreements with local NGO partners and supported needs assessment and emergency response (WASH, education, child protection and health) supplies for approximately 6,800 households.
In 2019, UNICEF continued to support emergency needs of Central African Republic refugee children and affected host communities mostly in East Region, working through a resilience framework, however underfunded. Activities were undertaken in cooperation with UN partners and local government with emphasis to school rehabilitation, promotion of birth registration and child protection.