- Coordinated humanitarian response to a series of crises, including flooding in Agadez, which affected over 100,000 people, and a meningitis epidemic.
- Mobilized around $11 million through CERF to help cover emergency needs.
- Established a broad-based HCT, including donors, ICRC and five NGOs.
As political tensions increased in 2009, the biggest challenge for humanitarian coordination was maintaining and improving the partnership between the Government and humanitarian actors. The prompt assessment of and response to humanitarian crises proved difficult, with the national authorities slow to highlight concerns. For example, the Government did not declare the meningitis epidemic and did not request international assistance during the Agadez floods. Consequently, some assessment and response tools, including UNDAC and a Flash Appeal, could not be activated. This affected the timeliness of the humanitarian response.
Despite these problems, OCHA Niger and humanitarian partners adopted an expanded advocacy role, raising issues of humanitarian access and humanitarian space with the Government. The HC and OCHA maintained regular contact with the authorities, including the Prime Minister’s Chief of Staff and the Government’s humanitarian agency Dispositif National de Prevention et de Gestion des Crises Alimentaires.
This approach helped when serious flooding hit Agadez in September. NGOs on the ground confirmed the heaviest flooding in several years, with at least 30,000 people left homeless as houses were washed away. A week-long United Nations-led mission was rapidly dispatched to the region to assess needs and identify priorities, particularly the arrangement of temporary sites sheltering flood-affected populations. Restricted humanitarian access made it difficult to mobilize adequate resources for humanitarian agencies working in the country. Niger only received 59 per cent of the $61 million required, as set out in the 2009 West Africa Appeal. Of that amount, $11.7 million was from CERF for 14 projects from four agencies. This represented an increase of almost $1.5 million from 2008. OCHA also initiated a resource mobilization effort for the United Nations Humanitarian Air Service. More than $2 million was received from Belgium and CERF towards this service.
OCHA continued its engagement in disaster risk reduction by supporting the consultation to finalize the draft National Disaster Response. OCHA also organized regional workshops in disaster preparedness in five regions. A regional response plan was subsequently developed and shared with the humanitarian community and donors. OCHA Niger also drafted four early warning reports to Headquarters.
OCHA Niger advised cluster/sector leads on activating the cluster approach and advised the HC on creating a HCT. Both initiatives should help improve humanitarian coordination within Niger, but are proving difficult to implement. OCHA participated in all major inter-agency assessments and supported the analysis and implementation of recommendations for the Food Security Assessment.
OCHA Niger’s information materials included weekly humanitarian bulletins and notes to management, while the FTS was used to provide regular funding updates to partners. OCHA also established a humanitarian website for coordination and information sharing. Monthly humanitarian information and sharing meetings were regularly organized by OCHA in Niamey and at the field level, attended by the entire humanitarian community.
During 2009, OCHA Niger appointed a gender focal point in Niamey and developed a gender action plan. This plan has been implemented in Niamey and in field offices.
Information materials on sexual exploitation and abuse have been distributed to all staff and partners. OCHA is involved in a gender and human rights inter-agency group. Data broken down by gender have been considered during elaboration of CERF proposals and in reporting.
OCHA initially planned to start its transition and phase-down in 2010. This was to be reflected in the 2010 planning process, which started in October 2009. However, given the deterioration of the political situation and the early signs of a severe food and nutrition crisis in 2010, OCHA delayed implementing its transition plan. The transition strategy for OCHA Niger will be reviewed later in 2010.