The third High Level Conference on the Lake Chad Region has concluded Tuesday with reaffirmed commitments from Lake Chad Basin countries and international partners for a coordinated, regional and sustainable response, supported by humanitarian and development organizations. More than US$500 million (€458 million) in aid has been pledged to support joint actions at the local level.
The two-day conference, held in Niamey, Niger, on January 23 and 24, brought together more than 30 countries as well as international organizations and about 100 civil society organizations. Norway was co-hosting the conference with Germany, the United Nations and Niger.
The conference aimed to provide humanitarian assistance and protection to the population and to promote opportunities for durable solutions, including the return, reintegration and resettlement of internally displace persons (IDPs) and refugees on the basis of voluntary decisions.
Participants of the conference acknowledged that security has been restored in parts of the region through the efforts of the four countries involved, namely Niger, Nigeria, Cameroon and Chad. The improved security situation has created a favorable climate for the re-establishment of state structures, the provision of essential social services, and the revitalization of economies in these areas.
Despite the progress made, the Lake Chad Basin region continues to face a protracted and complex crisis caused by extreme poverty, climate change, violent conflict, and lack of social services. More than 11 million people in the Lake Chad region are in need of humanitarian aid and 3.3 million are currently displaced. In the countries of the Lake Chad Basin (Nigeria, Niger, Chad and Cameroon) overall 24,1 million people require humanitarian assistance and 5.3 million are displaced.
The upsurge in violence has led to a continued deterioration of the security situation, which has resulted in the continued withdrawal of government institutions in the region. In addition, poor economic prospects, dwindling resources, and loss of livelihoods have been compounded by the impact of climate change, causing people to flee their homes.
Thanks to the joint efforts of local and national governments and civil society organizations supported by the international community, some improvements have been recorded. However, participants acknowledged that much more needs to be done and that the fact that the conference is taking place in the region today is an important step in recognizing the empowerment of the people of the region.
"The crises in Africa need African solutions. It is therefore important that the Conference on the Lake Chad Basin Region took place for the first time in the Lake Chad region itself," emphasized Katja Keul, Germany's Deputy Foreign Minister. "Germany will remain a reliable partner. Despite the war in Ukraine, we are giving the region more, not less money for humanitarian aid, development and stabilization. We are convinced that the security and stability of Europe and Africa are directly linked," she said.
The conference reaffirmed the imperative to address the growing humanitarian needs, root causes, and interconnected dimensions of the crisis in the Lake Chad region and to build resilience for the millions of people affected.
Participants reiterated their commitment to coordinate their efforts, particularly with regard to cross-border approaches, respect for human rights, strengthening visible and inclusive governance, availability of economic resources and access to social services, food security and quality of nutrition.
"I thank member states, partners and donors for their generous pledges of support today. We are committed to continuing to provide life-saving assistance to millions of people in the Lake Chad region, who live day-to-day in appalling conditions. But humanitarian action alone will not end the misery. If we do not address the root causes of the crisis, we will not be able to heal the wounds of this region," said Joyce Msuya, UN Assistant Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Deputy Emergency Relief Coordinator.
Member states and institutional donors have pledged more than $500 million (€458 million) to support a comprehensive, complementary and coordinated regional response to the crisis in the Lake Chad region.
The European Commission alone has allocated €102.5 million in humanitarian aid to help vulnerable communities in Nigeria, Niger, Chad and Cameroon. The total amount for 2023 will be distributed as follows: Nigeria (€34 million), Niger (€25 million), Chad (€26.5 million) and Cameroon (€17 million). The funding is part of the total €181.5 million allocated this year for the Lake Chad basin, the Central African Republic and the Sahel.
The Lake Chad Basin remains amongst the most fragile regions in the world. It is affected by a combination of protracted humanitarian crises driven by conflicts and exacerbated by other factors such as food insecurity, chronic undernutrition, natural hazards, limited state presence, rapid demographic growth and the growing effects of climate change.
An unprecedented food crisis is ongoing, driven by conflict, a decline in agriculture production due to violence and climate change, and the soaring prices of food in global markets. Furthermore, violations of human rights and International Humanitarian Law (IHL) are on the rise, hindering the action of humanitarian workers.
Full text: La Conférence de Niamey sur la région du lac Tchad s’est conclue par un engagement ferme à renforcer l’action conjointe pour une réponse immédiate et à plus long terme dans la region, Third High-Level Conference on the Lake Chad Region, press release, published January 25, 2023 (in French)
Full Text: EU pledges €102.5 million in humanitarian funding for Africa's Lake Chad region, European Commission press release, January 23, 2023