Regional Office for West and Central Africa

Key Facts
  • Floods are increasing in frequency and impact in West and Central Africa. They affected 1.5 million people in 2010.
  • Over 10 million people are at risk of food insecurity in the Sahel belt.
  • An estimated 40 per cent of children suffer from chronic malnutrition in both regions.
  • In West and Central Africa, 44 per cent of the population does not have access to a safe water source and 53 per cent live on less than $1.25 a day.
  • The 2010 Consolidated Appeal for West Africa requested $725 million, of which $323 million (44 per cent) was received.


The Regional Office for West and Central Africa (ROWCA) is based in Dakar and covers 24 countries. The region’s people remain confronted with many threats to livelihoods and protection, ranging from food insecurity to political volatility, chronic poverty and the longer-term impacts of climate change. These trends affect the coping capacity of states, communities and families.

ROWCA deployed staff on 16 surge-capacity missions in 2010. This included deployments to Niger for the food crisis, and to Benin and Pakistan for floods. In Niger, the situation was so severe that an Emergency Humanitarian Action Plan (EHAP) was launched in April to provide assistance to 7.1 million food-insecure people. An EHAP requesting $46.8 million was also created for Benin in the last quarter of 2010 to address food insecurity and flooding.

ROWCA has developed and strengthened partnerships with regional organizations including the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and the Permanent Inter-State Committee for Drought Control in the Sahel. As part of ROWCA efforts to build capacity, it worked with ECOWAS and the Government of Mali on an agreement to establish the first ECOWAS regional humanitarian stockpile in Bamako, Mali.

The office provides capacity-building support to govern­ments across the region. Most recently, it collaborated with the governments of Ghana and Sierra Leone to develop their national contingency plans. Training on rapid needs assessments was provided to the governments of Mauritania and Guinea. The curriculum was based on a regional-risk methodology developed by OCHA’s Regional Office for Latin America and the Caribbean. Benin, Cape Verde, Guinea Bissau and Togo will take part in similar training in 2011.

OCHA’s presence in the region is undergoing realignment. The Humanitarian Support Units (HSUs) in Ghana, Togo, Côte d’Ivoire and Guinea have closed due to the improved capacity of the governments of Ghana and Togo, and the implementation of OCHA’s phase-out strategy for Côte d’Ivoire and Guinea. A new HSU will be established in Abuja, Nigeria, to support coordination and response to nutrition, food and natural disasters. In 2011, only six of the 24 countries that ROWCA covers will have an OCHA presence (country office or HSU): CAR, Chad, Niger, Nigeria, Senegal and Sudan.

In 2011, ROWCA will strengthen surge capacity for countries in the Gulf of Guinea and the Delta, and strengthen partnerships with ECOWAS and the Government of Nigeria. It will focus on reinforcing regional and national coordination capacity to better prepare for and respond to the crises that affect highly vulnerable countries in the region.