From 2005, Niger faced various challenges, such as food crises, natural disasters and political instability, all of which had significant humanitarian implications. To support humanitarian coordination, resource mobilization and advocacy, OCHA opened its office in Niger in 2005. Since then, OCHA ensured a coherent response to the humanitarian challenges by providing coordination support to international and national NGOs, UN agencies, Government line ministries and the donor community, thus bringing partners to work together on agreed priorities and strategies.
Through its main office in Niamey and its sub-offices and antennas, OCHA ensures humanitarian coordination in Niamey and the regions of Maradi, Tahoua, Zinder, Diffa, Agadez, Tillaberi and Dosso. In these regions, OCHA facilitates and organizes meetings and joint assessments, and facilitates contingency planning and common response plans, among other things. Through its field presences, OCHA supported the roll-out of three clusters at the provincial level and expanded its partnerships with all main stakeholders. This enabled quick information sharing by providing a basis for further assessments or relevant humanitarian action to be taken. OCHA’s decentralization enabled humanitarian partners to become familiar with humanitarian coordination tools and expand their capacity to assume more coordination responsibilities.
Due to the volatility of the security situation in some areas of the country, particularly Agadez, Tahoua and Tillaberi, and with the aim to facilitate humanitarian access to the entire country, OCHA advocated the establishment of a free military escort for humanitarian convoys, which the Government granted immediately.
OCHA still plays a key role in providing technical expertise and support in humanitarian coordination mechanisms and strategies, including emergency preparedness and response, joint assessments, information management and advocacy. OCHA works to ensure better planning and coordination of humanitarian activities, capacity-building of partners and greater coherence between humanitarian, recovery and development activities.
The Country Office is facilitating the humanitarian response of about 120 international and national organizations through cluster meetings, joint assessments and humanitarian responses at national and provincial levels. To support the HC’s key coordination functions, OCHA functional areas will continue to be organized under humanitarian coordination, public information and information management as follows:
Coordination: OCHA’s priority is to ensure that effective coordination mechanisms and strategies support the HC as well as the HCT and cluster roles at national and provincial levels. This includes the coordination of joint assessments and analysis, resource mobilization and the humanitarian response. OCHA ensures systematic coordination of the common humanitarian programme cycle, and it guides transparent discussions to determine the humanitarian needs to be included in the CAP 2013.
To strengthen the existing coordination mechanisms and strategies, OCHA continues working with a range of humanitarian actors, including the Government and cluster coordinators, and it supports the extension of humanitarian coordination mechanisms to areas within the country where required. The office focuses on capacity-strengthening of the national coordination structures. In addition, efforts to link humanitarian and non-humanitarian coordination structures are supported.
OCHA also plays a key coordination role at the regional level, working closely with African and West African organizations based in Niger to strengthen information exchange and cooperation. OCHA manages early warning information and shares humanitarian information, including humanitarian bulletins, data and maps, with humanitarian stakeholders inside and outside the country.
Public Information: The OCHA Public Information Unit works with humanitarian partners to better coordinate information gathering and dissemination. The office encourages clusters to be more proactive in contributing to regular humanitarian bulletins and OCHA sub-offices to focus on human-impact success stories. The introduction of new information templates seems to have spurred partner agencies’ interests in sharing information and helping to disseminate it widely.
Information Management: The Information Management Unit (IMU) aims to improve information products through initiatives including establishing a working relationship with the Government and strengthening interaction with the NGO and donor communities.
Through its IMU, OCHA Niger provides the required support to ensure that information management tasks, including using relevant technologies and implementing inter-agency information-sharing procedures, are followed in the relief efforts. Essential IM tools (e.g. Snapshot, Dashboard) and mapping support are provided to the humanitarian community, including technical support to the Government’s early warning bodies.
OCHA Niger will continue its key role in supporting humanitarian planning and response. It will facilitate and support humanitarian coordination mechanisms and strategies, advocacy, resource mobilization and information management. OCHA has established sector-coordination mechanisms in the country by activating clusters, namely food security; nutrition; health; water, hygiene and sanitation; protection; logistics; and emergency education and telecommunication.
In the next two years, OCHA will continue to support the Government and humanitarian stakeholders to better plan for and respond to humanitarian needs and gaps. OCHA will play a central role in coordinating the response to identified needs in food, agriculture, nutrition, water, hygiene and sanitation, protection, education, protection, multi sector and early recovery. The office will advocate increased resources to support identified needs and gaps. OCHA will also continue working with the Government to strengthen national capacities on disaster preparedness and responses by increasing its support to the Dispositif national de prévention et de gestion des crises alimentaires et nutritionnelles, which is the national structure responsible for managing food security and nutrition issues. As the main interface institution between the Government and humanitarian partners, the institution reports to the Office of the Prime Minister, giving it high political visibility and a degree of accountability and effectiveness.
Through its main office in Niamey and its sub-offices, OCHA will maintain its support to humanitarian stakeholders, including donors and the Government, and will ensure resource mobilization through the CAP and CERF to cover identified humanitarian needs and gaps. The office will continue to ensure coherent responses through humanitarian coordination mechanisms (the HCT, clusters, joint assessments, contingency plans) and strategies (Common Humanitarian Action Plan).
OCHA will continue to advocate the link between the Government’s response plan and the CAP to make humanitarian plans and responses more efficient and timely. The revision of a multi-risk contingency plan for the Government, UN and NGOs will be maintained at national and provincial levels, and OCHA sub-offices will continue to contribute to the early warning system through information gathering and analysis. OCHA will continue to reinforce the message of the Under-Secretary-General and Emergency Relief Coordinator, and the Executive Director of UNDP. It will do this by encouraging development donors to invest more funds to build resilience by addressing the root causes of food insecurity in Niger. Ultimately, the ability of the Government and its partners to better plan for and respond to humanitarian issues will help to determine the nature and scope of OCHA’s presence in Niger beyond 2013. This will also inform any OCHA and humanitarian transition plan in the country.
Public Information: In 2012 and 2013, OCHA Niger will continue its weekly release of humanitarian information bulletin for donors, the Government, national and international NGOs, national and international media, regional institutions, and regular news and partner briefings. It will also continue sending press releases. OCHA Niger will also work with partners on strategies for common crises and emergency communications. When required, OCHA will offer technical expertise to the Government and NGOs to strengthen their information gathering and analysis.
Information Management: The IMU will increase its direct technical support capacity at national and field levels to ensure the development and management of information products. It will alsooffer closer support for inter-agency information management efforts in the field, and provide strengthened preparedness (e.g. through preparing relevant map layers). To allow inter-agency obtaining and sharing of data, OCHA will reach agreements with data providers and developers, such as Agrhymet, in the region and seek to maximize the extent to which remote-sensing products are available to the international humanitarian community, including through proven dissemination mechanisms such as ReliefWeb.
During 2012 and 2013, OCHA will continue to tailor user-oriented information products to better support inclusive assessments and planning for a needs-based response. In addition, OCHA will engage partners, including the Government, to draft an IM strategy.
Resource Mobilization and Advocacy: Resource mobilization will remain a major focus for OCHA in 2012 and 2013, particularly among non-traditional and emerging donors. OCHA will continue to foster partnerships and improve information exchange in collaboration with humanitarian partners, donors and the Government. The strengthening of planning, preparedness and response capacity remains a key area, with the adoption of Niger’s first multi-risk contingency plan that includes food-security threats, massive population movements and flooding. OCHA is exploring the possibility of developing an Emergency Relief Fund to mobilize a more flexible humanitarian financing resource especially for NGOs. To reinforce resilience from humanitarian to sustainable development, OCHA will continue working with various partners and donors to advocate increased coherence among humanitarian, recovery and development activities.
The CAP will remain the framework for addressing humanitarian and early recovery priorities in Niger. OCHA will continue to make the case for more financing of recovery programmes included in the CAP. Given the lack of an effective and inclusive national development coordination structure, OCHA will continue to recommend that the cluster system provides the forum for humanitarian and relevant recovery issues, including to facilitate coordination between activities programmed under the CAP, the UNDAF and other relevant Government and NGO recovery activities. To inform the humanitarian and early recovery response, planning will continue to be based on rigorous and joint needs assessments and situation analysis. OCHA will further promote mainstreaming of gender and HIV/AIDS within humanitarian planning, including multi-risk contingency planning, CAP, CERF, needs assessments and training activities. OCHA will also continue to promote the application, monitoring and evaluation of Inter-Agency Standing Committee policies. Specifically, OCHA will increase its advocacy for more leadership of the Government on the CAP process; more leadership at the technical and provincial levels for stronger cluster coordination; early assessment of food security and nutrition; and for improved access.
Preparedness: Disaster preparedness and response remain key priorities for the OCHA office in Niger. In the next two years, OCHA will strengthen local preparedness and response by facilitating workshops, developing new plans or revising existing national and provincial multi-risk contingency plans, organizing simulation exercises, and producing and disseminating information and early warning products to all humanitarian stakeholders operating inside and outside the country for internal and public use. These products include situation reports and operational updates, maps and databases. The office will keep abreast of latest developments, and liaise with national and local Government, humanitarian organizations and donors to ensure that appropriate humanitarian monitoring and reporting mechanisms are in place. OCHA will liaise with national and local Government structures on early warning and disaster risk reduction, humanitarian needs monitoring, gap analysis and response, and facilitating access to people in need. The office will continue to promote links between humanitarian/emergency response and recovery programmes by facilitating or participating in humanitarian planning, joint needs assessments and other field missions. Due to the volatile security situation in some areas, especially near Malian and Nigerien borders, OCHA will continue to ensure that humanitarian access is guaranteed by the Government , and that humanitarian stakeholders carry out adequate and timely interventions to respond to affected people’s needs.