Humanitarian Organizations Increase Focus on Lake Chad Crisis


As the rainy season approaches in the war-torn Lake Chad region of Africa, humanitarian organizations stand on high alert. The Lake Chad Basin is composed of Cameroon, Chad, Niger and Nigeria. With some of these countries facing violent attacks from Boko Haram and others in desperate humanitarian circumstances, this upcoming rainy season poses a threat to millions of lives. Fortunately, UNICEF, the World Health Organization (WHO), USAID and other humanitarian organizations are coming together to figure out solutions to the Lake Chad crisis.

The focal threat of the rainy season is disease and famine, caused by flooding and muddy roads which limit the accessibility and mobility of populations. With more than seven million people already suffering from malnutrition in this region, the threat of the rainy season puts 17 million individuals, mainly women and children, directly at risk. Of those 17 million, 5.6 million children are in danger of contracting water-borne diseases such as cholera, which can prove fatal if not treated.

Amplified by the violence occurring in the Lake Chad region (specifically conflict in Northern Nigeria), the threat of this upcoming rainy season is palpable. Boko Haram in Northern Nigeria prevents much of the aid from reaching the affected population. The group has also destroyed vital infrastructure such as medical clinics, schools, water pipelines, bridges and roads, which has left many without access to essential services.

With 2.3 million people already displaced in the Lake Chad region, it is essential that humanitarian organizations work with haste. After meeting at the Oslo Humanitarian Conference on Nigeria and the Lake Chad Region, international humanitarian agencies have devised a response plan for 2017. However, it will require a budget of $1.5 billion, which is out of reach for most aid agencies.

Despite the lack of funding, UNICEF and its partners have stayed committed to the cause, going to the communities at the highest risk for cholera outbreaks and teaching families about sanitation and how to protect themselves against water-borne infections. In Niger, Cameroon and Chad, the distribution of essential drugs and bars of soap have helped out the citizens living in internally displaced persons’ camps. Humanitarian organizations are also urging the governments of the affected populations to take their responsibilities seriously and protect their civilians.

Despite the difficulties faced by both the concerned communities and the aid organizations trying to reach them, UNICEF, the WHO and other international humanitarian agencies still dedicate their resources to helping those in the Lake Chad crisis.

Kelly Hayes

Photo: Flickr