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Regional Humanitarian Fund for West and Central Africa Annual Report 2021

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2021 in Review


Humanitarian situation in 2021
2021 saw a drastic increase in humanitarian needs in the Central Sahel, reaching 14.7 million people in need of life-saving assistance early in 2022. In a highly complex and volatile context, violence is one of the key drivers of needs in the region. As the level of violence rises, the effect on people’s lives worsens. Aid organizations are working across the region to respond to the most urgent needs of those affected. In 2021, thanks to generous donor contributions, the UN and humanitarian partners provided food aid, nutrition, emergency shelter, healthcare, water, sanitation and hygiene, education and protection, reaching areas that were previously hard to access.

The crisis is growing faster than the response, which is hindered by a lack of funding. Between 2020 and 2021, despite needs remaining unchanged, resources mobilized to support the response dropped by €200 million. Only 41per cent of the funds required by the humanitarian community to respond to urgent needs in the Central Sahel were secured. This is the lowest per cent since 2015. The humanitarian community calls for a renewed engagement by all contributors to ensure that no one is left behind.

Niger faces broad and complex humanitarian needs linked to escalating conflict, socioeconomic violence, and climate disasters. The number of people in need has increased by 65 per cent, from 2.3 million in 2019 to 3.8 million in 2021. Underfunding remains a major constraint for humanitarian operations, with the 2021 Humanitarian Response Plan (HRP) only 42 per cent funded.

The crisis in Burkina Faso continues to deteriorate rapidly. Early in 2022, the country’s displaced population surpassed the historic mark of 1.6 million people, making it the largest caseload in the Central Sahel. Despite this, funds did not match the increasing needs. Only €258 million of the €608 million requested under the 2021 HRP were received.

In Mali, insecurity has forced 400,000 people to flee their homes. The food situation is particularly worrying and will be dramatic in the coming months. Currently, over 1.2 million people are facing food insecurity. This represents five per cent of the population, twice as much as two years ago. Despite the significant and continuing increase in needs throughout all sectors, the funds mobilized remained equal: too low to finance an adequate response, covering only 38 per cent of the HRP requirement.

Escalating food insecurity
Failure to respond to food needs has a severe impact on Sahelian lives. Affected households and people adapt by reducing the number of meals per day or the amount consumed, exacerbating hunger and triggering physiological dysfunction, health vulnerabilities and malnutrition. People adapt their livelihoods to cope with the food shortages, often resulting in an increase in seasonal and permanent migration or displacement, the development of illegal activities, and a reversion to extractive activities, negatively affecting available resources.

Year after year, failing to respond to food needs in the region contributes directly to the continued deterioration of the food security situation. Without a substantial scale up of the response, individuals, households and communities’ risk being locked in a vicious spiral of food insecurity and vulnerability, unable to recover.

Spiking protection needs
Violence has a disastrous effect on the Sahel. Frequent attacks have resulted in the closure of health centers and schools across the region, exposing children, particularly girls, to exploitation, abuse, early and forced marriage, and forced recruitment into armed groups. It means that individuals cannot to obtain life-saving medical services, as well as more routine health care services such as sexual and reproductive health. Inadequate provision of services to meet growing humanitarian needs exacerbates these conditions of violence, denial of rights, and coercion. More precisely, the lack of resources for protection response has a disproportionate effect on gender-based violence response, mine action, education and child protection. Vulnerable groups, such as women and children, people with disabilities, and displaced communities, are disproportionately affected, leading to negative coping strategies that have a direct impact on the effectiveness of the response to all other needs, resulting in dangerous ripple effects.

Increasing Gender-Based Violence (GBV)
Women and children account for 70 per cent of people displaced by conflict, making them especially vulnerable to human rights violations, including gender-based violence, and often lacking access to GBV services. If action is not taken now, thousands of girls will be married too young to compensate for food scarcity and lack of access to livelihoods for vulnerable families, and millions of the most vulnerable women will lose access to gender-based violence and mental health services, increasing their risk of life-threatening violence and exploitative survival practices.

UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs: To learn more about OCHA's activities, please visit https://www.unocha.org/.