Post-humanitarian crisis management: A necessary transition towards the development of Niger
In 2015, Niger was impacted by numerous crises that hampered its development. The food crisis continued to affect the most vulnerable populations, an estimated 1,158,000 people. ACTED distributed food rations to 47,000 vulnerable people across the country. Niger is also affected by the security crises impacting its neighbouring countries: Niger has welcomed 56,000 Malian refugees since 2012, supported by ACTED through the management of 3 refugee camps. ACTED also managed camps hosting Nigerian refugees and displaced Nigeriens, an estimated 250,000 people, who fled from attacks carried out by Boko Haram.
Camp management: Transition from emergency to development
The political and security crises impacting the bordering countries have led to major population displacements in the North-West and South-East of Niger. ACTED provided an emergency, multisectorial, targeted and adapted support in the camps hosting Malian, Nigerian refugees and internally displaced Nigeriens. Access to water, sanitation, shelter, food and protection services was thus improved. ACTED acknowledges the necessity to empower these populations to enable them to meet their needs by themselves. ACTED therefore worked with the displaced populations and the host communities to help them to develop their economic capacities, through vocational trainings and support to income-generating activities.
Access to water, sanitation and hygiene is a priority in Niger
In 2015, access to clean water and sanitation for the Nigerien population was still limited. This issue increased with population displacements, especially in the Diffa region, in the South-Eastern part of the country. ACTED implemented an innovative mixed approach, a “community-led total sanitation”, in order to improve population access to the most basic needs. This approach involves communities in the sanitation activities, and thus ensures perennial infrastructures. This approach triggers populations’ awareness on good hygiene practices, thus decreasing sanitation-related diseases.
A crucial support in preventing malnutrition and in food security
Niger is structurally affected by food insecurity, malnutrition and climate phenomena which impacts harvests. ACTED intervenes all year long in order to meet basic food needs of refugees and vulnerable host communities. Therefore, ACTED provided food distributions in 5 camps as well as in 10 vulnerable villages, while ensuring the screening and referencing of children suffering from acute malnutrition. Moreover, in order to meet pregnant and breastfeeding women’s needs, ACTED distributed nutritional supplements and organised trainings on good family practices. These women also benefitted a close monitoring with local focal points.
Tackling the ongoing humanitarian crisis while starting the development process
Protracted crises in bordering countries still cause complex population movements, especially in the Lake Chad region. While displaced populations settle in spontaneous villages and sites instead of settling in camps, social cohesion is troubled by armed attacks and pressure on resources. Furthermore, Niger is facing important development challenges, that ACTED aims to address by strengthening food security through supporting agriculture and livestock. In addition to that, behaviour changes will have to be initiated to alleviate already visible climate change effects.
ACTED’s action for peaceful cohabitation
Hama, a Malian refugee from Tabareybarey camp, and Seidoun, a Nigerien merchant from Ayorou village, are discussing the possibilities of an economic collaboration. This conversation is the result of ACTED’s work with different populations and support to the development of income generating activities for Malian refugees and host populations. This dialog is strengthening the mechanisms implemented by ACTED within camps management, such as conflict management committees.
Economic development to support social cohesion
The Malian crisis has strongly impacted economy and the exchanges that used to take place in the area along the Malian and Nigerien border. Present since 2010, ACTED teams have seen the number of refugees grow: according to UNOCHA and the Nigerien government, in December 2015, an estimated 55,000 Malian refugees are in Niger, almost 33,000 of which reside in camps managed by ACTED. As a high proportion of them have no intention of leaving Niger: economic integration is essential to ensure they have a decent living outside the camps without depending on external assistance. We are taking action to encourage vocational training and to develop income generating activities, in line with the economic opportunities in the region. We are also organising a series of economic forums in the Tillabery region in Niger in order to contribute to the economic and social integration of refugees in the Nigerien society and to promote intercommunity dialogue, by making Malian refugees and Nigerien suppliers and potential buyers meet.
Set up and management of Diffa refugee camps
The main challenge for ACTED in Niger is the Diffa region, which has become the primary focus for the humanitarian community with fighting arising in Niger for the first time in early February 2015. The Nigerien government and the UNHCR have agreed to set up three camps to host displaced and returnee populations. ACTED is in charge of setting up and managing these camps during the first year of implementation in partnership with local NGO Karkara. ACTED will also continue its collaboration with REACH to provide the humanitarian community with the information required to effectively tackle this ever-changing crisis.