Analysis of the context, crisis and needs
2020 has been marked by persistent and increasing insecurity in certain border areas between Niger and neighbouring Nigeria, Mali and Burkina Faso. The activities of non-State armed groups (NSAGs) in the regions of Diffa, Tillabéri and Tahoua and the recurrent incursions of NSAGs from bordering countries caused population movements, particularly in the Tillabéri and Maradi regions. As of 30 September 2020, the number of people on the move (IDPs, refugees and returnees) was estimated at more than 530,000, which is an increase of 21 per cent in comparison to 2019. In the regions of Diffa, Maradi, Tillabéri and Tahoua alone, the number of IDPs increased by 37 per cent. Insecurity has led to the closure of 356 schools, affecting more than 33,500 children in Maradi, Tillabéri and Tahoua. The number of human rights violations also increased. Overall, 1,758 protection incidents were recorded as of 30 September. The number of recorded GBV cases increased by 133 per cent, from 1,399 in 2019 to 3,261 in 2020.
Flooding in Niger between August and September caused extensive damage. As of 20 October, 632,000 people (three times more than forecast by the Government) in 116 communes (44 per cent) across the country were affected by the destruction of more than 50,000 houses and over 18,000 ha of farming areas, and the loss of more than 15,000 small ruminants. These losses will weaken the livelihood conditions of already vulnerable populations.
As of 31 October, the COVID-19 epidemic has also impacted the daily lives of Nigeriens in 28 out of 72 health districts. Its impact has not been strong in terms of loss of human lives (69 deaths as of 31 October out of 1,220 people declared positive, i.e. a fatality rate of 5 per cent). However, its effects have been felt on the economic level. The mobility restrictions introduced by the Government to limit the spread of the virus restricted the population's access to necessary food items.
In addition to COVID-19, Niger experienced three other disease outbreaks, namely measles, vaccine-derived poliomyelitis virus type 2, and malaria. According to health authority records released in September 2020, measles affected 2,685 people, polio affected 5 people, and there were more than 2 million cases of malaria. Malnutrition and food insecurity are also major concerns, affecting more than 2 million people.
Government-imposed escorts due to insecurity have greatly contributed to restricting humanitarian access. In Tillabéri and Tahoua, more than six assessment missions were canceled between January and July for reasons linked to escort requirements, depriving several thousand affected people of much-needed humanitarian assistance. In October, more than 30,000 people were deprived of access to health-care services due to the closure of health centres in the districts of Ayorou and Banibangou in Tillabéri because of insecurity. The rehabilitation of hydraulic facilities could not take place in the Tillabéri region, depriving more than 12,000 people, living in 12 sites, of access to drinking water.
2020 was an unpredictable year. COVID-19 overturned the initial 2020 planning, leading to the revision of the HRP 2020 in July. The PiN was revised from 2.9 million at the beginning of the year to 3.7 million at the mid-year review, and the target increased from 1.8 million to 2.2 million during the same period.
Despite the low level of funding received (44 per cent of funds requested by 2 November 2020), the humanitarian community was able to assist 1.07 million people, or 49 per cent of targeted people. Food assistance was provided to 1,073,088 people, while 73 per cent of those targeted were able to benefit from temporary access to drinking water.
Projected situation in 2021 and beyond
The impact of this year’s flooding, localized droughts, COVID-19, as well as armed conflicts and NSAGs activities (including physical aggression and human rights violations), climate hazards, health and water challenges and malnutrition will increase the number of vulnerable people already living in precarious conditions. In light of this context, the number of people who need humanitarian assistance will most likely increase in 2021.
Response priorities in 2021
In 2021, the focus will be on mitigating the impact of the various shocks on the livelihoods of the affected populations, but also on ensuring greater protection of affected communities. Thus in 2021, an estimated 2.2 million people will be targeted for humanitarian assistance. Despite the trend of increasing needs, this figure, which is almost the same as after the HRP revision in July 2020, is the result of better targeting by clusters (focus on people in acute need of assistance) and of improved synergy with development actors within the Nexus framework. For example, the food security cluster target was split between the National Plan of vulnerable populations, which covers the needs of 31 per cent of affected people, and the HRP, which covers the remaining 69 per cent. Since the average cost per beneficiary has not changed, the required budget for 2021 is estimated at $500 million.
- Provisional figures subject to change after the revision of the harmonized framework that sets the food security PIN.