West and Central Africa

Situation Report

Highlights

  • West and Central Africa faces some of the world's most complex challenges. Acute crises are deteriorating. In 2022, over 61 million people will require assistance and protection.
  • Over 28 million people are acutely food insecure in West and Central Africa. Trends point towards a further deterioration if support to stem food insecurity is not ramped up.
  • This is the largest number of acutely food insecure people in West and Central Africa since 2014, with severe levels in parts of Burkina Faso, Chad, Mali, Mauritania & Niger.
  • Climate change, heavy rains & floods take a toll on human life, property, land, & livestock. In 2021, flooding affected over 1.2 million people in 13 countries of the region.
  • In the Sahel, 3.5 million people have been forced to flee their homes, more than ever, including over 2.5 million internally displaced, & about 1 million refugees & asylum seekers
Community members affected by crises

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West and Central Africa

Situation Report

Key Figures

54.3m
People in Need in 2021
34.7m
People targeted with assistance in 2021

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West and Central Africa

Situation Report

Funding

$6.1B
Total HRP requirements in 2021
$2.9B
Funding received (47%) in 2021

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Contacts

Naomi Frerotte

Public Information Officer

Sandy Maroun

Reporting Officer

West and Central Africa

Situation Report
Background
IDP in Chad
Internally displaced persons (IDP) following flooding in N’Djaména, Chad. Federica Gabellini/OCHA

General overview: analysis of the context, crisis, and needs

West and Central Africa faces some of the world's most complex challenges in a context where acute and prolonged crises are deepening and needs deteriorating. The confluence of conflict and violence, deep poverty, demographic pressures, weak governance, chronically high food insecurity, and malnutrition, and the impact of climate change is driving millions to the fringes of survival. In conflict-affected regions, civilians are facing a dramatic protection crisis in an increasingly volatile context.

The compounded impact on the most vulnerable people is devastating and causes persisting, fast-escalating needs. More than 1 person in 10 – over 61 million people – will require assistance and protection in 2022.

Violence and climate shocks are the main drivers of a dramatic food crisis. Farming, trade, and transhumance have been significantly affected, compromising the livelihoods of millions of people. Across the region, more than 58 million people are facing severe food insecurity, almost 15 million more than one year ago, and the highest caseload recorded since 2016. The situation could further escalate as millions of people affected by conflict have little or no access to their land and livelihoods. 

Fleeing violence, over 15 million people are uprooted, two million more than one year ago. Insecurity and violence are threatening lives and livelihoods, disrupting access to health, water, sanitation, and hygiene services, depriving violence-affected communities' access to vital services, increasing human rights violations, and jeopardizing social cohesion. 

Climate change is threatening already fragile livelihoods and having adverse impacts on security. The scarcity of natural resources, particularly water and pasture, fuels intercommunal tensions and conflicts between herders and farmers. Droughts are becoming more recurrent and severe, and rainfall is irregular and increasingly unpredictable. In 2021, flooding affected over 1.2 million people in 13 countries of the region. Heavy rains and floods take a heavy toll on human life, property, land, and livestock. 

Across the Sahel, close to 5.8 million people have been forced to flee their homes, more people than ever before. Large-scale displacement is straining weak services and scarce natural resources. Many of the displaced have also been forced to flee several times, further deepening their vulnerabilities. About 20 million people are acutely food insecure in the Sahel. Since 2015, the number of brutal attacks increased eight-fold in the Central Sahel and tripled in the Lake Chad basin, leading to additional displacement and needs.

In the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) and the Central African Republic (CAR), long-running conflict and protracted crises continue to affect millions of people, with severe protection risks, forced displacement, and high levels of food insecurity. In western Cameroon, violent conflict in the South-West and North-West regions has displaced more than 700,000 people. 

As the crisis deepens, an entire generation is affected. The education of millions of children is compromised. Across the Sahel, some 6,000 schools are closed or non-operational due to violence, jeopardizing children's future, especially girls who are the least likely to return to school after prolonged interruptions. In the North-West and South-West regions of Cameroon, two out of three schools are closed, affecting up to 700,000 students. Across the Central Sahel, over 137 health centres remain closed due to insecurity, while most of the ones still open are not fully functional.

Women and girls are at heightened risk of sexual and gender-based violence. In Mali, the number of reported gender-based violence cases increased by 40 per cent compared to last year. In the Central African Republic, gender-based violence is the first identified protection risk, and the percentage of women and girls who experienced a protection incident doubled compared to the same period in 2020.

Insecurity is also constraining humanitarian access. Facing worsening insecurity and a complex operational environment, aid workers are increasingly at risk, have been abducted and killed. Insecurity has forced the suspension of operations in some locations, leaving communities without access to basic assistance.

Across West and Central Africa, the socio-economic impact of COVID-19 is also deepening acute needs, exacerbating chronic vulnerabilities and food insecurity. Through COVAX and other channels, vaccination campaigns intensified in 2021, but vaccination rates remain low at a 6 per cent average across the region. 

In 2022, the situation of millions of vulnerable people affected by a crisis in West and Central Africa will remain critical. Trends in the Sahel point towards further deterioration. Spillover effects into coastal countries, already experienced in 2021, will likely increase and affect more and more people. In the region, political instability persists. The series of coups d’état in Mali, Chad, and Guinea, renewed hostilities across conflict areas in the region, and 2022 upcoming elections risk further strain the situation in the region and increase inter-communal tensions. In Cameroon, in the North-West and South-West regions, the fragmentation of non-state armed groups (NSAG) and increasing criminality have led to an increasingly fragile environment. In the Central African Republic and Niger, in the absence of a political solution to address to root causes of the crises, the overall protection, and humanitarian situation risk further deteriorating. In the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), national and provincial political dynamics, as well as the reconfiguration of the UN Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUSCO), could also be factors influencing the protection environment and local contexts, amidst the emergence of new conflicts causing more violence and forced displacement. 

Close to 1,000 humanitarian partner organizations are working across the region to respond to the most urgent needs of those affected. The scaling up of the response, however, is hampered by a lack of funding and resources. 

Life-saving aid also needs to be accompanied by longer-term interventions focused on reducing needs. Humanitarian and development efforts must be complementary, based on principles of do-no-harm and community acceptance. Investment is needed to address economic and gender inequalities, lack of access to basic services, human rights violations and non-inclusive governance, the scarcity of resources and the climate emergency, and the worrying rise in hunger.

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West and Central Africa

Situation Report
Emergency Response
IDPs in Niger
Internally displaced persons (IDP) in the Tillabéri region, Niger. Laura Fultang/OCHA

Sahel crises leave devastating impacts on the most vulnerable

In the Sahel, conflict, violence, displacement, as well as socio-economic crises are having compounded and devastating impacts on the most vulnerable people and causing persisting and fast-escalating needs. In 2022, over 30 million Sahelians will need assistance and protection, over one million more than in 2021. Six countries – Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Chad, Mali, Niger, Nigeria – have developed Response Plans for 2022, requiring a total of US$2.4 billion. 

The three-border area shared by Burkina Faso, Mali and Niger is the epicenter of a fast-growing crisis with unprecedented levels of armed violence and insecurity. Over 12.8 million people need humanitarian assistance across Burkina Faso, Mali, and Niger.

Civilians caught between armed groups, intercommunal violence, and military operations are forced to flee their homes to seek safety. Over 5.8 million people are uprooted in the Sahel, more than ever before.

In the Central Sahel (Burkina Faso, Mali, and western Niger), insecurity has rapidly deteriorated, and displacement has increased by 30 per cent between 2020 and 2021, reaching 2 million internally displaced people and 132,000 refugees – including half a million forced to flee inside their countries in 2021 alone. Many of the displaced have also been forced to flee several times, further deepening their vulnerabilities.

The rapid increase is especially staggering in Burkina Faso, where armed violence has forced more than one million and four hundred people to flee their homes since the crisis began (from 47,000 at the end of 2018 – with an increase of 2927 per cent). 

Insecurity and violence are threatening lives and livelihoods, disrupting access to health, water, sanitation, and hygiene services, depriving violence-affected communities' access to vital services, increasing human rights violations, and jeopardizing social cohesion.

Multi-year security trends in the Central Sahel and the Lake Chad Basin, show a dramatic deterioration. Since 2015, the number of security incidents increased sixteen-fold in the Central Sahel – with the number of fatalities also increasing over ten-fold, and security incidents almost doubled in the Lake Chad basin, leading to additional displacement and needs.

Spillover effects into coastal countries, already experienced in 2021, will likely increase and affect more and more people. Trends show increased risks and violence in cross-border areas, such as between Burkina Faso and Benin, and northwest Nigeria and Recuperation Maradi in Niger. These rural areas are among the most difficult to reach and showcase high social vulnerabilities. They are home to already exposed populations and strongly suffer from violence and insecurity. In Côte d'Ivoire and Benin, two coastal countries already affected by spillover effects, the number of security incidents increased ten-fold between 2015 and 2021.

There has been an increase in violent attacks in Burkina Faso's southern regions bordering Côte d'Ivoire, leading to increasing numbers of internally displaced persons (IDP), a trend which may spill over into cross-border displacement, should violence continue southwards. 

Limited livelihoods in areas of the first displacement have led to IDPs (mostly young men and heads of household) engaging in temporary secondary cross-border movements into Côte d'Ivoire and Ghana, to secure livelihoods for households left behind. Despite their vulnerable situation, once there, they are perceived as economic migrants and not assisted by authorities.

Concerted action is urgently required to curb the ongoing violence and prevent further spillover of insecurity and its impact on vulnerable communities, in Togo, Benin, Ghana, Cote d'Ivoire, and beyond. 

As the crisis deepens, an entire generation is affected. The education of millions of children is compromised. Across the Sahel, over 6,000 schools are closed or non-operational due to violence, jeopardizing children's future, especially girls who are the least likely to return to school after prolonged interruptions. Over 7 million children are out of school and will remain exposed to risk of abduction, enslavement, and forced recruitment.

In the Central Sahel alone, over 4,975 schools are closed or non-operational due to violence – more than half of them in Burkina Faso. The rapidly deteriorating situation is having a devastating impact on women and children's survival, education, protection, and development. Close to 5 million children in Burkina Faso, Mali, and Niger needed humanitarian assistance in 2021. The sharp increase in armed attacks on communities, schools, health centres, and other infrastructures is also disrupting access to basic social services. 7,312 health centres are closed or non-operational leaving millions of people without access to adequate services. Displacement and increased insecurity also limit access to water and sanitation. 

Women and girls are at heightened risk of sexual and gender-based violence. In Mali, the number of reported gender-based violence cases increased by 40 per cent compared to last year. Insecurity is also constraining humanitarian access. Facing worsening insecurity and a complex operational environment, aid workers are increasingly at risk, have been abducted and killed. Insecurity has forced the suspension of operations in some locations, leaving communities without access to basic assistance. 

One-third of abductions of aid workers in the world in 2020 occurred in Mali, Niger, and Burkina Faso. In 2021, 45 cases of aid worker abductions have been reported in Mali and Burkina Faso alone. These factors significantly contribute to the increased cost and slowdown of humanitarian activities. In Mali, non-state armed groups actors' increased use of improvised explosive devices (IED), destruction of infrastructure targeting the military, and blockades of villages have also reduced civilian access to basic services and humanitarian assistance. 

In an increasingly complex environment, humanitarian principles are essential. Militarization and politicization constitute a major risk for a principled response. All governments, state and non-state armed groups, and all stakeholders must uphold their international humanitarian law obligations. 

Aid organizations are working across the region to respond to the most urgent needs of those affected. The scaling up of the response, however, is hampered by a lack of funding and resources. As we almost reach the end of the year, less than half of the required funds have been received, putting at risk the lives of millions of Sahelians in need of assistance. 

In the Central Sahel, funding levels do not match increasing needs; on average only 40 per cent has been received as of 22 December, with Mali facing the widest funding gap. The UN Integrated Strategy for the Sahel (UNISS), currently being implemented, outlines the overall framework for UN-wide efforts to help lift the Sahel out of crisis across security, development, and resilience pillars, complemented by humanitarian programs. 

It is urgent to prioritize humanitarian action. Strategic priorities include the protection of civilians, access to food, water, sanitation, health, and education. Without sufficient resources, the crisis will further escalate, eroding communities' resilience and putting millions of children, women, and men at risk. 

Humanitarian organizations are gearing up resource mobilization efforts. As part of these efforts, requests for the UN's Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF) grants are being developed in Burkina Faso and Mali. A regionally hosted pooled fund to boost humanitarian operations in Central and West Africa has been launched, starting with the release of the first envelope of US$12.5 million for Niger, funding a total of 22 projects. A Burkina Faso envelope is being developed and will be finalized in January 2022.

In 2020, CERF allocated a record sum of US$96.4 million to countries of the Central Sahel, more than in any previous year, enabling a coordinated and fast humanitarian response, especially to displacement and food-related emergencies.  

Life-saving aid also needs to be accompanied by longer-term interventions focused on reducing needs. Humanitarian and development efforts must be complementary, based on principles of do-no-harm and community acceptance. Investment is needed to address economic and gender inequalities, lack of access to basic services, human rights violations and non-inclusive governance, the scarcity of resources and the climate emergency, and the worrying rise in hunger. However, there must be a clear distinction between humanitarian and security objectives and between humanitarian/development and stabilization funding. 

Further investments in multi-dimensional solutions are required. Host governments and local communities are first responders – they need support. Only coordinated action and strong partnership among local communities, national governments, humanitarian and development actors, and international partners and sustained investments in social services can turn the growing crisis around. 

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West and Central Africa

Situation Report
Emergency Response
Food security
A woman farmer in the Democratic Republic of the Congo

Food insecurity in the Sahel has increased significantly over the past year

The Sahel crisis is worsening fast and significantly and needs are deteriorating. The confluence of conflict and violence, deep poverty, and the impact of climate change are driving millions to the fringes of survival. Farming, trade, and transhumance have been significantly affected, compromising the livelihoods of millions of people.

Conflict, insecurity, displacement, and their impact on communities have become a key driver of food and nutritional needs, steadily deteriorating since 2017. The situation is compounded by a decline in agricultural production across Sahelian countries. The high food prices on local and international markets, as well as residual effects of COVID-19 measures and a worsening economic situation in some countries leading to high inflation, have all contributed to reduced access to food for most households.

Climate shocks are also contributing to the dramatic food crisis. Drought conditions in some countries of the region are comparable to severe droughts experienced in 2011/2012, in 2004, and in 1983/1984.

2021 was marked by a delay in rains in some areas, a poor spatial and temporal distribution with local flooding in August. In addition, rainfall breaks and an early cessation of rains in September came at a critical time in the agricultural season.

Insecurity remains the primary cause of food insecurity in the region, resulting in displacement and disruption of livelihoods and trade. The number of people facing severe food insecurity in the Sahel, including Senegal, has increased significantly. Across the Sahel region, close to 20 million people are facing severe food insecurity, the highest caseload recorded since 2016. Currently, the number of people facing severe food insecurity has doubled in Niger and Mauritania and tripled in Mali compared to November 2020. According to the Cadre Harmonisé results, more than 50 per cent of the region's population is food insecure.

The lean season is expected to start earlier in 2022, with farmers' stocks depleted and increased demands on the markets. The decrease in supply will likely lead to prices further escalating and some commodities may no longer be available on the markets.

Compared to 2021, an increase of more than 40 per cent in the number of people facing severe food insecurity is expected during the next lean season in 2022. Across the Sahel, over 29 million people are expected to face severe food insecurity, including 8.1 million people in the Central Sahel. 18 million people in Nigeria will face severe food insecurity during the lean season.

In Niger, the number of food-insecure people could increase by 57.5 per cent, in Mali by 40.9 per cent, and in Mauritania by 36.5 per cent. In Burkina Faso, three areas (compared to two areas in 2021) could face emergency levels of food insecurity and the situation is deteriorating overall in the country's crisis areas.

According to the Permanent Interstate Committee for Drought Control in the Sahel (CILSS), available pasture will likely only cover two to three months of needs due to an important pasture deficit across the Sahel, from Mauritania to Chad. As a result, transhumance has begun earlier than normal, which could exacerbate conflicts between farmers and herders. Additionally, cereal production is declining in all Sahelian countries, especially millet and sorghum, which are staple crops across the region. 

As for government measures to slow the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic, the restriction of movements within and between countries had a significant impact on people and animal mobility as well as trade flows. 62 per cent of households surveyed by the Cadre Harmonisé report lower incomes in 2021 compared to before COVID-19.

West African governments' responses to the impending crisis will include replenishing national food security stocks for food distributions during the lean season. This will further reduce the availability of food in the markets, leading to increases in food prices.

Local and international food price increases could reduce the feasibility and effectiveness of assistance programs but also hinder the possibilities for food distribution assistance.

Improving flows between the region's trade basins could help increase food availability in the Sahel. To do this, tariff and non-tariff barriers to the movement of goods and services should be removed. However, it should be noted that the production increases announced in coastal countries have not yet translated into significant decreases in prices on the markets.

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West and Central Africa

Situation Report
Analysis

Funding status for West and Central Africa in 2021

Funding requirements 

Globally, in 2021, funding requirements of almost all response plans have increased compared to mid-year 2020 and 2019 due to the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. Among the largest increases globally, the increase of funding requirements in West and Central Africa was primarily due to the escalating Sahel Region crises. When compared to 2020, requirements in Burkina Faso and Mali increased significantly. When compared to 2019, the increases in requirements were much steeper and were particularly significant in Mali and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. In contrast, the requirements for the Central African Republic, have decreased.

Recorded funding 

Recorded funding for humanitarian activities as of late December 2021 compared to the same time of the year in 2020 is almost the same if considering the required percentage of the funding received, with 46 per cent received in 2020 and 47 per cent in 2021. As for the amounts of funding received, as of late 2020, US$2 billion were received out of US$ 5 billion required, while in 2021, US$2.9 billion were received out of the US$5.9 billion required. Among West and Central African countries that developed humanitarian response plans, Chad is the most underfunded, 30 per cent of the required funding or US$ 186 million received, while the Central African Republic is the best-funded with 86 per cent covered or US$ 381 million received. 

Donors and recipients

As of late December 2021, the United States of America is the biggest donor in the region, with US$ 1.25 billion provided in 2021, followed by ECHO with US$ 264 million. Among the top 10 donors in the region, Norway provided the least funding with $63 million.

The UN World Food Programme is at the top of funding recipient organizations with US$ 927million, followed by the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR), which has received so far US$ 327 million. Meanwhile, the Danish Refugee Council's Humanitarian Fund is at the bottom of the top 10 recipient organizations with $56million. 

The food security cluster is at the top of funding recipients with US$772 million, followed by the nutrition cluster with US$223 million. While the agriculture and COVID-19 clusters are at the bottom of recipient clusters with US$3million and US$1 million respectively.

Find the latest updates on the West and Central Africa Regional Funding Status on the link.

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West and Central Africa

Situation Report
Interactive

West and Central Africa 2021 Funding Overview

Funding overview including funding for West and Central Africa Humanitarian Response Plans (HRPs) and the Global COVID-19 Humanitarian Response Plan (GHRP) funding for West and Central Africa countries.

Funding status

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West and Central Africa

Situation Report
Interactive

West and Central Africa: Regional Humanitarian Fund Bulletin (as of 31 December 2021)

The Regional Humanitarian Fund Bulletin presents an overview of the funding allocations provided to scale up emergency humanitarian operations for West and Central Africa.

West and Central Africa: Regional Humanitarian Fund Bulletin (as of 31 December 2021)

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West and Central Africa

Situation Report
Emergency Response

COVID-19 exacerbating acute needs

Across the region, COVID‑19 is further compounding acute needs. Sahel countries have registered nearly 300,000 cases of COVID-19. The delivery of humanitarian assistance continued with adapted delivery modalities accompanied by sensitization measures. In Burkina Faso, Chad, and Nigeria, COVID-19 mitigation measures have had a negative impact on access to agricultural inputs and labour. The COVID crisis, on top of the escalation of conflict, forced displacements, and natural disasters, has exacerbated pre-existing gender inequalities and significantly worsened protection of women and girls in the region.

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West and Central Africa

Situation Report
Access

Regional CMCoord training to address civil-military coordination challenges of humanitarian contexts in the Central Sahel

The security and humanitarian situation in the Central Sahel have deteriorated significantly over the last few years. In Burkina Faso, Mali, and Niger, several complex and fast-growing crises are developing with unprecedented levels of armed violence, insecurity, and displacement. Thousands of civilians have been killed, and hundreds of thousands forced to flee their homes. While access to affected populations is challenged by the deteriorating security situation, humanitarian needs are substantial and growing fast. In addition, insecurity and forced displacement are destroying the social fabric of communities and disrupting basic social services and governance. Food insecurity and human rights violations, including sexual and gender-based violence, are on a sharp rise.

Given the increasing complexity of humanitarian contexts, where national disaster actors, civil protection, humanitarian organizations, and their partners operate in parallel with a robust military presence, enhanced humanitarian civil-military coordination (CMCoord) training is critical to uphold humanitarian principles and preserve the humanitarian operating environment. As such, gathering national, regional, and international humanitarian, development, and peace actors is essential to enable them to learn to coordinate with each other and to uphold humanitarian principles for a sustainable and lasting impact on humanitarian response operations.

Additionally, on 20 October 2020, the High-level Ministerial Round Table on the Central Sahel “reaffirmed full support to the humanitarian actors that are operating under exceptionally challenging and difficult conditions on the ground and stressed the need to sustain humanitarian assistance while also working towards lasting solutions to the challenges that drive the crisis”. UN-CMCoord, the essential dialogue and interaction between civilian and military actors in humanitarian emergencies that is necessary to protect and promote humanitarian principles, is essential in supporting these goals.

Thanks to funding from the United Kingdom’s Foreign, Commonwealth, and Development Office (FCDO), OCHA’s Civil-Military Coordination Service (CMCS) and Regional Office for West and Central Africa (ROWCA), organized the first regional CMCoord training to focus on the Central Sahel and held in French. The training was held in Saly, Senegal, from 21 to 25 June 2021 and was uniquely tailored to the Central Sahel context. Participants represented both civilian and military perspectives, to better enhance regional knowledge on CMCoord, but also to learn from each other. Officers from national forces and the multinational G5 Sahel Joint Force attended the course, joining civilians from a range of humanitarian non-governmental and international organizations including the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and UN agencies.

The five-day training course pursued the following goals:

-         Develop a comprehensive knowledge base on UN-CMCoord and related concepts to apply guidance, tools, and policies in field operations.

-         Utilize UN-CMCoord concepts to advance collaboration between humanitarian, development, and peace and security partners.

-         Troubleshoot day-to-day challenges to sustain effective coordination with UN-CMCoord stakeholders.

-         Enhance the dialogue between humanitarians and armed actors for a principled humanitarian response, in support of humanitarian access and protection outcomes.

-         Develop alternative strategies to the use of armed escorts for humanitarian assistance, including measures for the safety and security of aid workers.

The training in Senegal is the first in a series of planned training sessions. Other five-day training sessions are planned in the Sahel individual countries including Mali, Burkina Faso, and Niger. Additionally, the first Training of Trainers “CMCoord Workshop for Military Training Professionals” is planned for October 2021 and will be designed specifically for the Sahel region context.

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