2005 was characterised by increasing vulnerability of the population due to the protracted political, protection and humanitarian crisis which has beset the country since 2002. Despite several peace agreements, the absence of an agreement on identification and lack of respect for deadlines to begin dismantling militias and implementing DDR contributed to the postponement of presidential elections, originally scheduled for October.
Persistent violence against civilians and instability caused by militia groups, particularly in the west and the Zone of Confidence separating government forces in the south and rebel Forces Nouvelles in the north, displaced 200,000 people in 2005, bringing the number of people displaced since 2002 to 800,000. Impunity for violent actions, along with poverty, food insecurity, HIV/AIDS, limited basic services and a weakened governance capacity, added to vulnerability. The challenges faced by vulnerable groups were compounded by hazards such as lack of rainfall in the north and epidemics in the northeast.
. Strengthen needs assessment and monitoring
. Increase advocacy on humanitarian principles, protection and IHL
. Improve the process of identifying vulnerable people and their needs and improve response by order of priority
. Strengthen operational capacities and coordination mechanisms in the field and increase the involvement of key partners in missions and activities in the field, particularly in the area of protection . Improve the monitoring and follow-up of evaluation missions, as well as the impact assessment of activities
OCHA continued to support operational and policy coordination at national and local levels. Through mechanisms such as the Consolidated Appeal, the Inter-Agency Humanitarian Coordination Committee, relevant sectoral groups and joint assessment missions, it enhanced joint analysis of vulnerability, improved the quality of information on beneficiaries and supported the targeting of assistance.
OCHA, in cooperation with all major humanitarian partners, updated the contingency response plan for Côte d'Ivoire to enhance preparedness, early warning and response capacity. This contingency planning exercise was conducted, in coordination with UN Country Teams and partners in five neighbouring countries under the aegis of the OCHA Regional Office for West Africa , to enhance monitoring, preparedness and standby capacity.
The office continued to advocate for increased government involvement in coordination activities. As part of a concerted humanitarian and development advocacy effort, humanitarian and development partners drafted five memoranda addressed to the president and the prime minister, calling for greater involvement of national authorities in five priority sectors: protection (with a particular focus on IDPs), basic health care, education, water and electricity, and the deployment of civil administration areas under Forces Nouvelles control. OCHA sub-offices activated sectoral working groups in those five priority sectors to strengthen operational capacities and coordination mechanisms in the field and increase the involvement of key partners.
In 2005, OCHA strengthened its presence in Côte d'Ivoire . In addition to the head office in Abidjan , OCHA sub-offices, in Bouaké, Guiglo, Korhogo, Odiénné and Man, worked together to facilitate the gathering, analysis and dissemination of information, and to advocate timely and relevant humanitarian assistance to vulnerable populations.|
The Abidjan office remained the central reference point for humanitarian information, particularly with regard to mapping needs and coverage, periodic reports, daily media reviews, advocacy and information products, and resource mobilisation. The number of information products published by OCHA increased in 2005, as did their use and appreciation by humanitarian partners, donors and other parties. The number of geographic and thematic maps produced rose from 100 in 2004 to 155, and the number distributed from 4,000 to 6,000. In the summer of 2005, the layout of the OCHA website was upgraded and made more user-friendly, and its content diversified and strengthened.
The office advocated with both government and Forces Nouvelles structures on humanitarian problems related to protection. The office produced, along with the NGO Search for Common Ground, a weekly radio programme on humanitarian activities and social cohesion, which was broadcast by ONUCI-FM.
A protection network was established (including partners from the UN system, NGOs and human rights, as well as the gender and child protection elements of UNOCI) to establish a more coherent and predictable response to the main protection needs of the civilian population.
In 2005 membership of the Inter-Agency Humanitarian Coordination Committee was enlarged from two to almost a dozen international NGOs operating in Côte d'Ivoire . The participation of representatives of technical ONUCI units (on human rights, child protection, gender, etc) also rose, and the number of joint IAHCC field needs assessment and monitoring missions increased by about a quarter.
The dissemination of OCHA data and information products helped to highlight and advocate for humanitarian needs in Côte d'Ivoire . Ad hoc reports on the Fengolo (Zone of Confidence) crisis, education and water issues contributed to deeper analyses and helped to prioritise agency and donor response.
OCHA information products circulated to UN Agencies, donor countries, ministries and other humanitarian partners raised the profile of key issues such as the protection of civilians and respect for humanitarian principles.
Collaboration with UN Agencies, NGOs and donors was improved via regular meetings during which information was exchanged and humanitarian priorities agreed, as well as through the completion of joint field assessment missions. The organisation of inter-agency assessment missions, coordinated and supported by OCHA, helped identify gaps in assistance, and supported a more effective humanitarian response, better monitoring of needs and enhanced identification of appropriate operational capacity.
Through the Protection Network, OCHA was able to increase awareness among international partners and local authorities in 2005. The office ensured that standards such as the Guiding Principles on Internal Displacement were included in partners' activities, and that preventive and responsive action was taken in an increasing number of cases, such as the forced return of IDPs, forced displacement or ethnically driven violence. Relevant outputs were shared with ONUCI, particularly regarding violations of humanitarian principles and IHL.
The main constraint during 2005 was the lack of funding for humanitarian activities, with the 2005 CAP among the most underfunded (at 41 percent at the end of October, one month before the launch of the 2006 CAP). Although humanitarian actors addressed and contained the immediate effects of the crisis in sectors like health, education and water and sanitation, very little could be done to promote social cohesion, prevent violence and protect civilians in the volatile areas of the West and within the Zone of Confidence. Prevailing insecurity due to inter-communal clashes also posed a threat to humanitarian workers.