As world leaders convene in Niamey, Niger, at the Lake Chad Basin Conference, the IRC is calling on donors, leaders and participants to recognize the critical need for funding to match rising humanitarian needs, and for humanitarian actors to have unfettered access to populations in need.

The Lake Chad Basin area is home to one of the world’s most protracted humanitarian crises, deepened by ongoing conflict, economic turmoil and the unchecked impact of climate change. 11 million people continue to need life-saving assistance. Today, 2.9 million people are internally displaced in Nigeria, Chad, Cameroon, and Niger. Three out of four Lake Chad Basin countries have been on the IRC’s Watchlist of 20 countries at greatest risk of major deterioration in the humanitarian situation for several years. Against this dire backdrop, the humanitarian response plans have been just over halfway funded on average. 

This conference is an opportunity to break the cycle of crisis by investing in the provision of basic services, and funding NGOs and civil society working at the frontlines directly with affected communities. The IRC also calls on donors to use this opportunity to reinforce the right of civilians across the Lake Chad Basic to access life-saving humanitarian aid. Restrictions and denial of access to humanitarian aid are hampering the ability of people in need to access basic services, particularly protection, healthcare, water hygiene and sanitation, economic support, and education. 

The conflict in the Lake Chad region is fueled by the effects of climate change; droughts, flooding and a shrinking Lake Chad are furthering displacement in the area. Critical investments in longer-term resilience programs and climate adaptation are needed to break down the climate-humanitarian divide, and donors should provide public pledges for funding to strengthen climate resilience and coordinated action.

The Lake Chad Basin conference offers a unique opportunity to honor the spirit of the Kampala Convention for the Protection and Assistance of Internally Displaced Persons in Africa, and to explore the full spectrum of durable solutions for the millions of IDPs across the region.

David Miliband, IRC’s President and CEO said, 
“The forgotten crisis in the Lake Chad Basin is one of the most serious in the world. The combined consequences of increasing instability, the growing impact of climate change to which the region is uniquely vulnerable and economic shocks have pushed humanitarian need to historic levels. Over 11 million people in the Basin region alone need humanitarian assistance; over 5 million people are severely food insecure– the highest figure in four years. Nearly 3 million people remain internally-displaced.

As global donors gather in Niamey for the Lake Chad region conference, the IRC calls not only for a significant boost in funding to meet great and growing need, but for humanitarian, climate, development, security and other stakeholders to work together to ensure unfettered aid for millions, the respect of international humanitarian law, and the delivery of aid that meets growing and increasingly multilayered humanitarian needs. It is more imperative than ever that the Lake Chad Basin is not forgotten or left behind.”  

The International Rescue Committee (IRC) has been working in Cameroon since 2016, in Niger since 2013, in Nigeria since 2012, and in Chad since 2004, providing life saving support to communities affected in the areas of health-nutrition, economic recovery and development, education, water hygiene and sanitation, protection and governance.