Regional Office for West Africa
West Africa is largely returning to peace and physical security as witnessed in Sierra Leone and Liberia, despite pockets of tension in Côte d’Ivoire. However, food insecurity and a nutrition crisis dominated Niger, while a cholera epidemic affected nine countries and floods affected five states.
The OCHA Regional Office for West Africa, based in Dakar, Senegal, supports the 15 ECOWAS countries plus Mauritania, the Central African Republic and Cameroon. The regional office also provides support to UN Resident Coordinators, donors, NGOs and governments through its network of resident national officers in Côte d’Ivoire, Niger and Guinea, and the ad hoc deployment of its 10 national and seven international staff based in Dakar.
- Strengthen consultation and coordination eforts, and thereby achieve effective monitoring, panning and response
- Facilitate the systematic application of policy instruments for the improvement of the protection environment in West Africa
- Coordinate needs-based planning and information management systems for improved monitoring, preparedness, decision-making and related advocacy
The regional office undertook humanitarian coordination, preparedness and advocacy activities in support of UN Resident Coordinators in Guinea Bissau, Benin, Mauritania, Senegal, Togo, Niger Liberia, Guinea, Mali, Burkina Faso and Ghana during 2005.
In Niger, the humanitarian consequences at the onset of the lean season turned out to be as critical as foreseen in the West Africa CAP in November 2004 and the Flash Appeal launched in May 2005. An OCHA emergency management team was deployed in July to establish an OCHA presence, including a HIC.
The regional office also assisted UNICEF and WHO in developing the Cholera Flash Appeal for six countries affected by the epidemic in 2005.
The office initiated a policy dialogue with development partners through a regional consultation on the Sahel in November. The objectives were to sustain dialogue between actors concerned about the sub-region’s food and nutritional insecurity, to ensure that the requisite tools are used to tackle acute and chronic vulnerability simultaneously, and to formulate an Integrated Action Plan for the Sahel that includes recovery and humanitarian relief activities.
In close cooperation with UNDP and the CILSS (Interstate Committee for Combating Drought in the Sahel), the regional office launched a regional consultative process on the need to bridge the transition from emergency response to recovery assistance. The process enabled governments and development partners to better understand the emergency response requirements of the international community. It led to concrete recommendations on how best to link humanitarian assistance and long-term development aid in the Sahel.
Following recommendations of the UN Security Council mission to parts of West Africa in 2004, ROWA and the UN Office for West Africa started cross-border meetings aimed at developing an integrated border stabilisation strategy. This institutional relationship was further reinforced in 2005 through participation in the Inter-Peace Missions Working Group chaired by the SRSG for West Africa.
Several UN country teams (Togo, Benin, Guinea Bissau, Mauritania) received preparedness support to facilitate contingency planning, training on human rights and humanitarian principles, as well as use of rapid needs assessment tools, WWW databases, humanitarian contact lists, situation reports and so forth in anticipation of crises.
In 2005, a newly established Information Management Unit (IMU) in the regional office supported regional coordination efforts by providing standard information tools, including contact lists, maps and a website, to the humanitarian community. The IMU also worked closely with OCHA’s Field Information Support Project and Early Warning Unit in preparing early warning analyses and key data sets.
Humanitarian consultation and coordination efforts were strengthened at the regional level in 2005, including through the Inter-Agency Contingency Plan for the five countries bordering Côte d’Ivoire, the Flash Appeal for the cholera outbreaks, and the CAP for West Africa (funded at 69 percent).
The protection environment in West Africa continued to be fraught and challenging, but there was some progress in relation to security improvements in areas emerging from violent conflict, especially in Liberia.
Although there is still room for improvement, the IMU enhanced the regional office’s capacity to provide timely and more accurate information for planning monitoring and responding to emergency situations in West Africa.
Lessons learned from the crisis in the Sahel in 2005 clearly showed that early warning does not necessarily lead to early action. Therefore, a public information and advocacy officer was recruited to increase public awareness and to galvanise the concerned states, supported by the international community, into taking prompt action in the event of an emerging crisis.