Humanitarian Crisis Persists as Ivory Coast Sees Political Recovery

ACF races to provide therapeutic care, access to food and water, and improved sanitation as tens of thousands remain displaced
Displaced Ivoirians queue for clean water in a makeshift camp. Photo courtesy UNICEF.

DUÉKOUÉ, IVORY COAST—While the Ivory Coast’s recent political crisis has subsided, the resulting humanitarian emergency persists. Tens of thousands of Ivoirians remain displaced, taking refuge in makeshift camps in the western part of the country, while thousands of others remain vulnerable to recent economic and agricultural disruptions. As the annual “hungry season” approaches—when food stores dwindle before new harvests are ready—and the country faces widespread food insecurity, Action Against Hunger | ACF International is calling for continued international assistance for vulnerable populations in the coming months.

“The camps have not emptied out over the past few weeks, and humanitarian needs are immense,” explained Arnaud Pont, head of Action Against Hunger’s emergency response in western Ivory Coast. The majority of the displaced are staying in the camps or hiding in “the bush” for either safety reasons or because they lack the resources to return home. With few venturing out from the camps to tend nearby agricultural fields by day, ACF predicts that humanitarian needs will only increase in the coming months.

“This is really troubling as we’re in the middle of the planting season, and with so many displaced people living in camps, it’s clear that this will negatively affect the coming harvests,” added Arnaud Pont. “We know that external food assistance will be needed for months.”

Meeting Immediate Needs, Ensuring Self-Sufficiency

To help meet the needs of displaced families, Action Against Hunger is providing daily food rations for 2,100 children in displacement camps in Duékoué, while opening 12 other feeding centers in Mahapleu and Danané to benefit 7,000+ children aged six to 36 months. These daily rations will be supplemented by the distribution of food stamps, helping affected families purchase a variety of foods from local merchants.

In addition to addressing the immediate needs of the displaced, with emergency rations of food, clean water, and improved sanitation services, ACF will launch an agricultural rehabilitation program to help the most vulnerable regain economic independence. Set to launch in two weeks, the rehabilitation program will benefit 3,000 households with distribution of seeds for the planting of maize and rice (both rain-fed and lowland rice varieties). To ensure that these seeds are set aside for agricultural production, ACF will also provide these households with one month of food rations so that their immediate needs are taken care of during planting.

Alarming Rates Of Malnutrition

Rapid nutritional assessments conducted by Action Against Hunger specialists in Bongolo indicate significant rates of severe acute malnutrition among children screened in the area. In response, ACF has integrated therapeutic care facilities into 12 existing health centers for the treatment of children with severe acute malnutrition, with 12 additional centers to open shortly. At the same time, the organization will provide inpatient therapeutic support in two regional hospitals for malnourished children with medical complications.

As the rainy season sets in with its increased risk of malaria (a disease that typically weakens children, making them more susceptible to malnutrition), ACF predicts rising rates of malnutrition, with grave prospects for an already alarming humanitarian emergency.