Regional Office for West and Central Africahttp://ochaonline.un.org/rowca/
- West Africa is marked by a multiplicity of crises characterized by their complexity, severity and impact on coping capacities.
- Malnutrition continues to be a silent killer in West Africa. It is estimated that more than five million children are suffering from global acute malnutrition in the region. Niger and Mauritania are among the most affected.
- Natural disasters such as floods are an increasing threat. 193 people died and over 770,000 others were affected by floods between June and September 2009. Two years ago, more than 800,000 were affected by floods.
- Meningitis, cholera, and hemorrhagic fevers kill hundreds every year.
- The deteriorating human security environment is fueled by socio-political instabilities, poor governance, youth unemployment, the effects of climate change, financial crises, rapid demographic and urban growth, and transnational criminal activities, including terrorism and the growing threat of narco-trafficking.
- These trends affect the ability of Member States to provide a conducive environment for political stability and socio-economic progress.
The trans-national nature of issues at stake suggest that priorities for OCHA should be on principled humanitarian response, linking relief to development, advocating for hidden and neglected vulnerabilities, and streamlining specific protection needs into preparedness and response mechanisms and tools. In 2010, the RO will also assume responsibility for Central Africa, following the joining of Eastern and Southern Africa and will therefore expand its coverage to include preparedness and regional coordination to RCs in these countries. As a RO, it will also provide surge capacity to country offices in the region when required.
Over the years, ROWCA has developed regional coordination networks with governments and external partners, such as donors – both within the United Nations and NGO communities working in West Africa, and at HQ level. As an example, sustained engagement with the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) is bearing fruit. ECOWAS regularly consults ROWCA on all humanitarian matters in West Africa. And a significant achievement has been the decision by ECOWAS Heads of States to establish a humanitarian depot in Bamako, Mali. In 2010, OCHA will nurture ongoing regional coordination services (preparedness, advocacy, information management, support to regional thematic working groups, natural disaster management and resources mobilization) centred on the regional appeal for West Africa – the main tool for responding to the intertwined and trans-national nature of crises, threats and risks affecting the sub-region.
Over the past year, preparedness – notably in the area of disaster management – has led OCHA and IFCR to organize annual consultations ahead of the flooding season to build the capacity of national actors in dealing with such disasters. The successful holding of the first UNDAC training for Francophone Africa is another example of OCHA ROWCA support to preparedness and emergency response, and support to West African Member States. In 2010, ROWCA work will be guided by:
- Capacity development for coordination, financing and response to disasters and emergency situations.
- Policy dialogue with Member States, regional organizations and non-humanitarian partners on responding to acute poverty, climate change and mitigating the impacts of large-scale crisis.
- IM to advance coordinated humanitarian action and sustain dialogue with development partners and donors.
- Advocacy to expand collective knowledge on hidden and/or neglected vulnerabilities and seek greater adherence to humanitarian principles by all stakeholders.
In 2010, the RO will seek to strengthen its support to all stakeholders and continue to provide countries with the tools to maximize available resources (technical and financial). This includes ensuring that countries understand, for example, how to request assistance from the humanitarian stockpile; tap into identified resources; or implement minimum preparedness activities. Overall, the RO aims to remain a “one-stop shop” for states and partners as they seek information, guidance and assistance in tackling the multiplicity of humanitarian challenges. The RO will also provide support to the transition of OCHA country offices, such as Guinea and Côte d’Ivoire, to HSUs and the absorption of management responsibilities in the future.
Policy dialogue is today bearing fruit as humanitarian, development and other actors are increasingly discussing the links between humanitarian needs, development and other emerging threats. The dialogue will further be strengthened, notably through the RDT.
IM and public information capacities will continue to be strengthened to facilitate decision-making processes and analysis of risks and vulnerabilities. Efforts such as the introduction of innovative approaches for the early identification of humanitarian risks – as well as triggers for emergency humanitarian response and activities – will be improved.