West Africa Crisis
December 19, 2017
Ongoing conflict across West Africa has forced more than 2.7 million people to flee terrifying violence in Nigeria, Niger and Chad. Having left everything behind, these desperate families now face new dangers- hunger, malnutrition and disease.
When Boko Haram attacked her Nigerian village and killed her husband three years ago, Sarah Isa and her six children immediately fled into the forest, without even stopping long enough to bury her husband’s body. Isa (name has been changed) and her children wandered for a month, scavenging for food and water as best they could, before arriving in a village where the family found a room to rent. They earn money by selling drinking water in the streets of the town and begging for handouts, but can’t quite find enough to buy food and pay their rent.
"I don’t like seeing my children go hungry," Isa says. "All I want is food."
Isa and her family aren’t the only ones struggling to find enough food to eat in northeastern Nigeria right now. A joint analysis released by the Nigerian government and other UN partners in late August estimates that there are more than 4 million people facing severe food shortages, including more than 65,000 in famine conditions in areas of the northeast that are only just now accessible to the Nigerian government forces fighting Boko Haram, as well as areas that are not currently accessible to the government and aid organizations.
This largely unknown humanitarian crisis is also affecting neighboring Niger, Cameroon, and Chad, where people fleeing violence are seeking shelter. Oxfam and UN agencies estimate that 2.7 million people have fled their homes, and as many as 10 million are in need of humanitarian assistance.
The conflict between Boko Haram and governments in this region has affected some of the poorest people in the world. They are in urgent need of food, water, and medical care. They are living in camps for displaced people and among host communities and are struggling to survive. The situation is dire across this region: The UN estimates that 75,000 children – out of 400,000 suffering from acute malnutrition -- will die this year if they do not receive treatment, in north-east Nigeria.
What Oxfam is doing
Oxfam has helped more than 500,000 people since it began responding to the crisis two years ago. The agency is ramping up its program and is seeking funds to expand its response to help 1.5 million people in the next 15 months.
Oxfam is helping displaced people with emergency food and basic nutrition support, clean water, and sanitation, including building bathing facilities and repairing toilets. Oxfam is distributing food and cooking equipment, and in some areas providing seeds and tools to help traders and farmers returning to their home communities get back on their feet.
The UN estimates 340,000 people are affected by the conflict with Boko Haram, many of them having fled neighboring Borno state in Nigeria. Oxfam has installed clean water systems, distributed cooking pots, buckets to store clean water, and water purification tablets. This program has reached an estimated 70,000 people so far.
Oxfam has reached more than 50,000 people with tarpaulins for shelter, cash, and clean water. Oxfam is urgently seeking funds for this emergency response as it currently has only a small percentage of the budget needed to cover its intended program. Oxfam is looking for the first possible opportunity to help farmers returning home to start growing their own food again. This is what Sarah Isa also wants to do: "I am ready to go back home today if the government assures us on security, we can farm our food because we have our farms there."
How you can help
The government of Nigeria is estimating that more than five million people are experiencing acute food shortages. Oxfam is providing people with desperately needed food, as well as clean drinking water and sanitation to help prevent disease and save lives. Donate now to help us meet the most critical needs.
Page last updated January 2, 2018