Extreme droughts and floods continued to hamper agricultural production in many parts of the country in 2011. This aggravated the already dire food insecurity situation for some 2.7 million people (17.5 per cent of the population). Ninety per cent of Nigeriens are agro-pastoralists, meaning the population relies heavily on a single rainy season for crop cultivation and pasture renewal. In addition, massive returns of migrant workers from Libya, Côte d’Ivoire, Nigeria and Algeria (around 250,000), resulted in the loss of much-needed remittances and an increased food demand for households. Child malnutrition remained high, and the situation of children aged six months to 23 months has been particularly alarming. Global Acute Malnutrition (GAM) rates surpassed the “critical” emergency prevalence rate of 20 per cent.
OCHA ensured a coordinated response to the food emergency crisis and the influx of refugees and returnees by supporting at least 63 international and 20 national NGOs, eight UN agencies and five Government line ministries. OCHA regularly briefed donors on the humanitarian situation, thus bringing partners together to work on agreed priorities.
The massive returns of migrant workers from Libya via the Dirkou Transit Centre in the Agadez region required a major humanitarian response. OCHA helped establish a National Crisis Committee, which developed a contingency plan and several operational plans and facilitated multi-sectoral assessments. To better coordinate the humanitarian response, OCHA established a field presence in Dirkou. OCHA ensured that situation reports were available for the humanitarian community, and for donors, the Government and national and international media.
Due to the volatile security situation in some areas, the Government granted OCHA’s request for military escorts for humanitarian convoys. This would facilitate humanitarian access to the entire country.
OCHA encouraged the updating of disaster preparedness and response plans for 2011. This was due to the threat of floods during the rainy season, and the influx of refugees and returnees from Libya, Côte d’Ivoire and Nigeria. OCHA supported the Government and implementing partners by updating joint contingency plans, mobilizing resources, and organizing and facilitating humanitarian funding workshops. After the cessation of the regional CAP, the office led the process of implementing the CAP, which was funded at 48 per cent. OCHA made the case for an early recovery component in the CAP, and for establishing an Early Recovery Working Group led by UNDP. OCHA and UNDP supported the Regional Committee for Prevention and Management of Food Crises to establish a regional multi-risk contingency plan, taking into account various regional specificities.
Through the humanitarian coordination tools set up by OCHA in 2010, such as clusters and working groups, the humanitarian community provided technical expertise to the national and local Government in response to the food emergency crisis of 2011 and to natural disasters.
OCHA’s sub-offices in Zinder, Agadez, Maradi, Tahoua and Diffa, and its antenna in Dirkou (Agadez), helped establish humanitarian coordination tools at the field level through regular meetings and joint assessments. This enabled humanitarian partners to become familiar with these tools, which boosted their capacity to assume coordination responsibilities. Through its field presence, OCHA supported the roll-out of three clusters at the provincial level, and expanded its partnerships with local authorities and humanitarian stakeholders working at the provincial level. The reinforced coordination structures and the rapid sharing of more accurate information ensured better-focused humanitarian interventions. It also enabled the Government to be more proactive in addressing humanitarian issues.
OCHA’s priorities in Niger are clear: strengthen coordination mechanisms and revise strategy, improve information management tools, and engage in sustained advocacy and resource mobilization. OCHA will focus on supporting an adequate humanitarian response to new and familiar problems, i.e. food insecurity, infant malnutrition, flooding, Malian refugees, returnees from neighboring countries (notably Libya) and disease outbreaks. OCHA will also continue to monitor needs, identifying those that are not being filled. OCHA’s work will often take place against a background of worsening security.
OCHA will also seek to establish inter-cluster forums and an Emergency Response Fund (ERF). The office will continue to provide technical support to clusters at the provincial level, and regularly produce and disseminate analytical information tools, such as maps, humanitarian bulletins and info-graphics.