Mid-Year Review of the Consolidated Appeal for West Africa 2007

17 July 2007

In August 2005, when the food crisis in the Sahel caught the full attention of international media, the Regional Director of UNICEF captured the outrage felt by many in a strong message to humanitarian partners and the public: “Children should not die like that in this century, where we have all the resources and technology to save them.”[1] With growing globalisation and exchange of information on conditions of living and livelihoods across the planet, this is becoming even truer as we simultaneously become better at tackling the challenges of humanitarian crises to lower the global threshold of undue human suffering. 

At a regional level, humanitarian partners have for 2007 agreed to focus on three priority areas for humanitarian actions in West Africa:

Theme I: Food Security and Nutrition

Theme II: Rapid Response to Health Crises

Theme III: Protection and Population Movements

The efforts of regional and national humanitarian partners in these areas are slowly but steadily showing an added value in terms of ensuring early notice of impending crises; for strengthening preparedness and joint programming of response; for advocating in favour of neglected situations; for mobilising efficient and timely human and financial resources; for reaching out to new actors; and, for sustaining policy dialogue with non-humanitarian partners.  Regional coordination within the framework of the West Africa CAP not only ensures that emergency resources are most effectively used on life-saving activities but also provides the necessary exposure to development issues.  This exposure will in turn allow humanitarian actors to engage into meaningful policy dialogue with non-humanitarian actors on ways to reduce poverty and maintain the disaster coping capacities of States, communities, households and individuals.

At a strategic level, as the humanitarian reform progressively draws humanitarian partners into cluster leadership and cross-sector coordination, these new mechanisms will face a rising challenge in West Africa. This will be to ease the upcoming transition wherein the humanitarian community will progressively depart from a decade-old culture of coordinating humanitarian actions related to conflicts to a new, emerging, and very demanding role of coordinating humanitarian affairs to ensure that Member States, regional organisations and new actors are fully engaged in all types of disaster risk reduction, ranging from conflict to the mitigation of natural catastrophes.

This will require that the system evolves from one of humanitarian response, which is mostly based on addressing highly visible needs, to a livelihood-based approach that continues to place rights to food, protection, and health at the centre of a search for better human security, itself a prerequisite to durable development.

It is not expected that West Africa will reach the Millennium Development Goals by 2015 as hoped for.  Some countries are not yet even on track and a child dying of meningitis in Burkina Faso or hunger in Niger, a women and her family displaced by fighting in Casamance, or an elderly person in Guinea who looses his life to exhaustion in attempting to reach a local health centre remain vivid illustrations that there is still a long way ahead.  Our sophisticated technology and advanced knowledge will be meaningless to the millions of vulnerable people of West Africa if there is not a greater commitment to build stronger linkages between humanitarian and development actors, and to bring aid delivery accountability to the heart of humanitarian work. 

As a result of the mid-year review the revised requirements now amount to $339.6 million, leaving outstanding requirements at$211.4 million.

[1]Quote attributed to Ms. Rima Salah, Deputy Executive Director of UNICEF.

Document History

17 July 2007

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