Côte d’Ivoire’s post-electoral crisis began in December 2010. It plunged the country into a situation of armed violence, leading to a humanitarian crisis. As tensions increased and thousands of people fled their homes, there was an urgent need to restore OCHA’s presence. A small-scale office was reopened in December 2010 and fully operational by April 2011.
OCHA and its humanitarian partners faced a hugely problematic situation. At the peak of the crisis in April 2011, over 750,000 people were displaced inside and outside the country. With two competing administrations claiming sovereignty, law and order collapsed, social services became heavily dysfunctional and the working environment was extremely insecure, with rampant looting and widespread abuse by security forces on both sides. The situation was extreme in the west.
The majority of displaced people stayed with host families, a smaller number stayed in formal camps and over 160,000 fled to Liberia. Humanitarian assistance to vulnerable displaced people was an absolute priority.
Coordination became a priority as the crisis led to a large influx of humanitarian actors in a fast-changing situation. OCHA assumed the coordination role following its re-establishment in the country in December 2010. It has continued to focus on an organized and carefully targeted response to delivering humanitarian assistance.
Coordination has included clarifying roles and responsibilities; ensuring common operational planning; promoting constructive liaison between UN agencies, local and international NGOs and government actors; and organizing weekly HCT meetings and regular inter-cluster coordination meetings.
Effective coordination has helped build a strong collective approach, which has proved crucial in identifying priorities for strategic plans (EHAP and CAP). OCHA’s establishment of a monthly Humanitarian Forum and its organization of regular meetings with the national authorities and donors provided a space to discuss key issues, including security concerns.
Working with its partners, OCHA has sought to keep the humanitarian crisis in Cote d’Ivoire in the headlines and raise awareness of the humanitarian work being done in the country. The production of regular bulletins and key messages has kept a strong focus on principal concerns: protection and return issues for vulnerable communities, the importance of humanitarian principles in the context of conflict and division, and the need for proper funding to maintain humanitarian activities and meet continuing needs in Côte d’Ivoire.
OCHA’s products include a 3W matrix, which is updated monthly. OCHA also shares the latest displacement figures, covering returnees and repatriated citizens, and produces maps highlighting this information. OCHA also created a website for humanitarian actors to source this information: http://ivorycoast.humanitarianresponse.info.
During the crisis, humanitarian monitoring exercises were limited due to the immediate humanitarian needs. However, the OCHA-led CAP process at the end of 2011 involved humanitarian actors developing a common logical framework and an activity-monitoring tool, which ensured humanitarian actors monitored at sector and geographical levels.
Côte d’Ivoire is now relatively stable and many displaced people have returned to their homes. However, serious needs remain. Clusters are operational, but there is a strong need to reinforce coordination mechanisms, with priorities carefully targeted.
As normal Government structures return, OCHA is working on a transition plan, outlining the Government’s role and responsibilities as a partner in humanitarian coordination. With Côte d’Ivoire moving away from an emergency status, the focus will shift again to development and early recovery. The HCT will continue to provide strategic direction to the humanitarian community in response and emergency preparedness.