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Niger : WASH assessment highlights complex access to water and latrines in the Diffa region.

The Diffa region in Niger has been affected by severe water shortages and continued displacement over the past months, with almost 83,000 refugees, 31,500 returnees and 127,000 IDPs in need of humanitarian assistance according to May 2016 figures from the Direction Région
ale de l’Etat Civil et des Réfugiés. Confronted by this crisis, humanitarian actors driven by the Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) group in Diffa and the WASH Cluster in Niamey implemented an emergency intervention to respond to the acute needs faced by the vulnerable population.

Within this framework, REACH in partnership with the Global WASH Cluster conducted an assessment in June 2016 to support the country level WASH partners to fill information gaps regarding WASH conditions in the areas most affected by displacement. The assessment aimed at evaluating the functioning and management of water infrastructure, and assessing the conditions of common latrines built as an emergency response to forced displacement.  The findings and recommendations of the WASH assessment can be found on this link (in French).

The assessment shed light on a complex situation with regards to the Diffa region’s water network. It showed that, while a majority of water access points were functional (70%) at the time of the evaluation, they were often breaking down for long periods of time. Management committees (CG) have a hard time taking care of these breakdowns. In 17% of cases, water points’ users are displaying negative coping strategies such as consuming water from sources of lesser quality.

The assessment also depicted specific aspects relating to common latrines, structures that, while also largely functional (86%) suffer from lack of communities’ resources. In reaction to this, we observe the positive implication of management committees in leading educational campaigns of basic hygiene practices among vulnerable populations in two thirds of the cases.

The WASH assessment allowed notably to pinpoint the positive impact of the CG in managing and maintaining water structures and latrines, to confirm that most water access points assessed were still functional in June 2016, but also highlighted persistent issues and the fact that part of the vulnerable population is engaged in risky water us coping strategies. The need for sustained interventions with reconstruction programmes, rather than solely emergency responses, is still recommended as far as humanitarian actors in the region are concerned.

Syria: Assessing needs in the north-eastern Hasakeh governorate

Assessing the population remaining inside Syria is typically challenging due to ongoing conflict, and the lack of detailed information on needs and vulnerabilities of people inside the country often impedes a well-planned humanitarian response. Hasakeh governorate, located in the north-eastern corner of the country, provides an illustration of this: access challenges and the volatile situation in parts of the governorate has resulted in limited data collection efforts. In particular, there is a lack of household-level information on long-term effects of the sustained crisis on populations that have not left the area. In light of this, REACH conducted between May and June 2016 a multi-sectorial needs assessment of six sub-districts within Hasakeh governorate (Ras al Ain, Amuda, Darbasiyah, Hasakeh, Quamishli and Tal Tamer), aiming to develop understanding of the humanitarian situation in these areas.

Findings for food security and livelihoods indicate a key area of concern across the area assessed, highlighting the precarious situation of the majority of households in the area. Whilst a minority of households were classified as food insecure (21%), a majority were on the periphery of maintaining food security, with 86% facing challenges to obtaining food. A lack of livelihoods opportunities is apparent, with a decreased reliance on employment-based income sources parallel to an increased reliance on non-employment based sources, as well as significantly higher expenditure and total debt in comparison to income. These patterns are particularly pronounced in rural areas, where households tend to have a greater reliance on less predictable income sources (such as begging, bartering, assistance and remittances), as well as larger monthly expenditures and total average debt in comparison to urban households.

Further, in terms of access to services, similar patterns appear for electricity and water: while networks are still typically functioning in the majority of areas, limitations in services are evident with a minority facing water shortages and minimal access to electricity. Again, rural households appear particularly disadvantaged as they were more likely to face water shortages and be without electricity.

Overall, it appears that whilst lifesaving intervention is limited to certain groups, humanitarian assistance is crucial for maintaining access to income and basic services and to ensure that the humanitarian situation does not deteriorate further. The household data collected should assist humanitarian actors with the planning and targeting of assistance, and has already been used to inform the 2017 Humanitarian Needs Overview (HNO).

You can access the full Hasakeh MSNA report on this link.

South Sudan: Rapid Assessment monitoring Mass Displacement from Greater Equatoria into Uganda

In early July, fighting broke out across South Sudan’s Greater Equatoria region, plunging what had been the most prosperous and peaceful part of the country into war. By the end of August, over 100,000 refugees have crossed the border into Uganda, and over 1,000 continue to stream across the border each day. However, the vast majority of people are still living in Greater Equatoria, where ongoing conflict and lack of food and resources has increasingly strained living conditions. With access to most towns and villages across the region restricted, the current living conditions, intentions, and needs of the estimated 3 million people living in conflict-affected areas are unknown, and the humanitarian community has faced severe obstacles in responding to the burgeoning crisis. To fill this gap, between August 27th and 31st, REACH conducted a rapid assessment involving 8 focus group discussions (FGD) with 92 newly arrived refugees in the Kiryandongo Refugee Settlement in Northern Uganda.

The results indicate that the Greater Equatoria region is facing an impending displacement crisis. Fighting by armed groups have driven most people out of towns in Greater Equatoria and into villages and rural areas. Most roads are now blocked by armed groups, who reportedly target any civilians trying to use them. While some necessary services, such as health facilities, water systems, and schools, are still open in a few urban centres, most of the population has fled, and the people and resources needed to operate them have been severely curtailed. In villages, where most people are hiding, services do not exist. Food is running out, resulting in people eating one meal a day or less.

Fear of continued violence means most FGD participants reported that their friends and family in the Greater Equatorias wish to leave and join their relatives in Uganda. However, the security situation currently prevents them from using the roads to cross the border. According to REACH FGDs, if the roads become unblocked a large number of those living in the conflict-affected area would cross the border and seek refuge in Uganda.

At the time of writing, only 20% of UNHCR’s requested 643 million USD to deal with this crisis has been funded. With thousands of people arriving at the border every day, the humanitarian community has limited time to prepare.

You can access the full cross-border displacement rapid assessment by following this link.

©UNHCR / F. Noy, available here.

Syria: REACH rapid assessment in Hasakeh highlights displacement trends and priority needs

On 18th August, airstrikes on Hasakeh city began for the first time since the beginning of the crisis in Syria, alongside increased clashes inside the city. Although airstrikes subsided after three days, clashes continued, triggering mass displacement of an estimated 70,000 people.

On 22-23 August, REACH teams have conducted a rapid assessment in locations outside of Hasakeh sub-district which have experienced an influx of IDPs, to provide timely information on displacement patterns and profiles, humanitarian assistance, as well as priority needs overview. Information presented was collected by REACH staff in Syria through qualitative interviews with 61 Key Informants (KIs) residing in affected areas in the governorate.

While the common IDP profile type is married couple with children, an estimated 50% of recent IDPs are children. Initial estimates suggest that whilst around 40,000 are displaced within Hasakeh sub-district, around 25-30,000 have been displaced to elsewhere in the governorate along three primary routes: northwest to Tal Tamer and Ras al Ain, north to Darbasiyah and Amuda, and northeast to Tal Brak and Qamishli. There are also reports of small numbers of people heading east to Hole and further northeast to Malikeyyeh.

Push factors primarily include escalation of conflict and the deteriorating security situation in Hasakeh city – specifically due to fear of shelling – with reduced access to food reported as a secondary reason. Pull factors for IDPs to displacement areas are primarily access to shelter and the presence of relatives and friends, security, and access to food. At the time of the assessment, humanitarian aid had not reportedly been received by IDPs staying with family and friends in the host communities. However, there has been some assistance for IDPs residing in collective shelters in some northern and northeastern communities, from local authorities, as well as local and international NGOs.

The current displacement is perceived as a short term displacement by affected populations, Within this context, their reported priority needs are access to food and NFIs, especially in the case of IDPs residing in collective shelters, access to healthcare and shelter; and Water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH), with the most pressing need being improved access to water and an increased number of latrines and showers.

At the time of writing (25th August), IDPs had reportedly begun to return to Hasakeh city from all locations of displacement, following a ceasefire agreement and cessation of conflict on 23rd August, although others were reportedly waiting to ensure that the situation has stabilised. If the ceasefire is respected and the situation normalises, it is likely that returns will continue. REACH will continue monitoring the situation over the coming days to continue informing aid actors on displacement trends and needs.

REACH Hasakeh situation overview can be found on this link.

Syria: Aleppo Humanitarian Situation Overview seeks to inform response planning amid the recent emergency crisis

REACH is still concerned about the humanitarian situation for the more than 250,000 people trapped in eastern Aleppo.

To provide a better understanding of the changing humanitarian situation within eastern Aleppo, REACH conducted a third rapid assessment between September 2-5, three weeks after the initial overview. The last route out of the part of the city (Ramouseh road) has been closed on September 4, effectively making Eastern Aleppo City besieged.

You can read the full latest update by following this link: REACH Situation Overview: Displacement and Needs in Aleppo City, September 6 2016.

Access the previous update by following this link: REACH Situation Overview: Displacement and Needs in Aleppo City, August 30 2016.

Following successive road closures in July and early August, and the ensuing intensified conflict in and around the city of Aleppo, more than 250,000 people remain trapped in Eastern Aleppo. Continued targeting of health centres and civilian infrastructures, as well as restrictions on humanitarian assistance have drastically limited access to basic yet vital services and supplies.

On 14-16 August, REACH teams conducted a rapid assessment in Aleppo to provide timely information on populations’ intentions and triggers, humanitarian assistance, as well as top ranked priority needs. Information presented was collected by REACH staff in Syria from key informants residing in the city sectors of Masken Hanano, Kady Asker, Bustan al Qaser, Ansari, Tarek al Bab and the Kurdish area of Sheikh Maqsoud. This information will contribute to the preparation of a joint Syrian INGO Forum effort to provide an overview of the rapidly evolving situation in Aleppo.

Although populations cannot currently leave eastern Aleppo, further intensification of shelling and reduced access to water and electricity were reported triggers that could result in an estimated third of the population (85,000 people) leaving if they were able to do so. Whilst the potential opening of humanitarian corridors outside of the city may be a pre-condition for civilians leaving, it was not reported to be sufficient to trigger of movement in absence of other triggers also occurring.

Typically, aid is reportedly prevented from entering the city at all. When it does, the presence of multiple barriers reportedly prevent people from receiving assistance, notably crowding at distribution points; and the risk of such locations being targeted by shelling. Respondents indicated a community preference for distributions to be organised in multiple stages to reduce occurrence of large gatherings, or alternatively for aid to be delivered directly to homes.

Top ranked priority needs across Eastern Aleppo were: an access to secure shelter and safe spaces to minimise impact of conflict and shelling; access to water, which has deteriorated recently, manifested in limited or intermittent access; Food security, with both affordability and availability reported as issues by KIs; and Health facilities availability: when available, the functionality of health facilities has been severely affected by conflict.

The rapid assessment is part of on-going REACH efforts to continually assess the evolving situation. The information is currently being used by stakeholders to better inform the planning and implementation of the emergency response, and further assessments will be conducted based on access and security in the coming days to continue informing aid stakeholders responding to the situation in Aleppo and surrounding areas.

The situation overview can be found on the following link: REACH Situation Overview: Intentions and Needs in Aleppo City, August 18 2016

Libya: REACH Multi-Sector Assessment informs humanitarian response amid continued unrest

The continuation of the civil war across Libya at the start of 2016 affected host and displaced communities, refugees and migrants alike, occasioning the displacement of an estimated 425,250 Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) who often lack access to basic services and adequate shelter. Hence, there is a continuing need for more data to inform sector-specific humanitarian planning in Libya.

Following two earlier assessments implemented by REACH and in cooperation with key humanitarian partners in August 2015 and February 2016, REACH, supported by the EU Humanitarian Aid and Civil Protection conducted a third assessment in June 2016 to inform the humanitarian Needs Overview and Response Plan in Libya. Based on community-level data collected from over 500 People with Knowledge (PwK) in 27 municipalities in East, West and South Libya, the updated Multi-Sector Needs Assessment (MSNA) draws comparisons, where relevant, between geographically opposite communities, and between the two earlier rounds and this latest MSNA.

Key findings inform that IDPs remain in more vulnerable shelters such as hosted/collective accommodation, or unfinished buildings (40%) compared to hosts or displaced families, mostly residing in rented accommodation. High rents and widely unaffordable housing/non-food items are a challenge for many of them. While salaried employment is the primary reported source of income in assessed communities, challenges still exist: delays in salaries, limited functionality of the banking system. Those lacking sufficient access to income resort to negative coping strategies such as spending savings (in 70% of cases), taking on debts for basic needs like food, or selling household goods.

Another key concern remains protection: June 2016 saw an increase in reported threats to people’s physical safety in assessed communities, with particularly high rates of theft (69%) reported by respondents in the South, and reports of deaths by small arms in 93% of total assessed municipalities. Among IDPs, loss of documentation, and subsequent incapacity to access cash, social security and basic services, aggravates the situation of key sectors mentioned above.

Despite ongoing conflict and instability in areas across the country, the overall humanitarian situation appears to have improved compared to the previous year. The Libya MSNA, widely used to inform humanitarian actors and partners, and plan humanitarian response, highlights continuing needs across all sectors of the crisis response, and shows that further support is needed at several levels in order to improve the situation and increase the resilience of affected populations.

To access the full REACH MSNA report and recommendations, follow this link.

Photo credits: EISHIREF/ACTED 2016

Nepal: Lack of safe land leaves communities at risk of landslide and flooding during the monsoon season

Ahead of the 2016 monsoon season in Nepal, concerns were raised that the destabilization in terrain conditions caused by the 2015 earthquakes could significantly increase the risk of landslides during monsoon rains, both in areas historically prone to landslides and flash floods, and areas that have become susceptible following the earthquakes.

In preparation of the monsoon season, the Nepal Shelter Cluster decided to develop a contingency plan focusing on the 14 earthquake-affected priority districts and 22 Terai districts previously affected by widespread flooding. In order to inform this contingency plan, REACH was requested by the cluster to facilitate a monsoon preparedness assessment across the identified districts. The assessment included a macro-level secondary data analysis to identify risk areas and estimate potential caseloads, along with collection and analysis of primary data to understand expectations of assistance, level of preparation and potential coping strategies, focusing on families already living in emergency (tents/tarpaulin) or temporary shelters.

The macro-level analysis enabled an identification of Village Development Committees (VDCs) most at risk of landslides and flooding. Within them, caseloads were estimated using a methodology derived from IASC’s Humanitarian Population Figures ‘top-down’ and ‘bottom-up approaches’.  The number of households most likely to need assistance in the event of monsoon impacts was estimated at 66,975 in Terai districts and at 46,894 in the 14 earthquake priority districts.

The micro-level data revealed that communities are overall aware of the risks they face but encounter considerable barriers when trying to mitigate them. For instance, many families reported not being able to purchase safe land or materials to strengthen shelters. In earthquake affected areas, many were uncertain on how to determine whether land is safe to build on and feared the impact of the monsoon: “Roads and land are at risk of extinction here, in 20 years there will be no Mamkha VDC,” predicts one FGD participant. Families in flood-affected Terai locations planned to resort to coping strategies such as taking turns to stay awake throughout the night during monsoon months, to ensure floods are noticed in time to enable all family members to flee to safety.

Assessment findings have been integrated by the Shelter cluster in its contingency plan and will be used by shelter actors to support monsoon-affected populations.

To read REACH’s recommendations based on findings from this assessment, access the full report here.

Niger : Première évaluation Eau, Hygiène et Assainissement dans la région de Diffa affectée par des déplacements

La région de Diffa au Niger a été affectée par de sévères pénuries en eau et des déplacements continus au cours des mois derniers avec près de 83000 personnes réfugiées, 31500 retournés, et 127000 déplacés internes qui ont besoin d’une assistance humanitaire, selon les données de la Direction Régionale de l’État Civil et de Réfugiés publiées en mai 2016.Face à la crise, les acteurs humanitaires, sous l’impulsion du Groupe Technique Eau, Hygiène, et Assainissement (EHA) dans la région de Diffa et du Cluster EHA dans la capitale Niamey, ont mis en place une intervention d’urgence pour répondre aux besoins accrus des populations vulnérables dans le secteur EHA.

Dans ce contexte, REACH, avec l’assistance du Cluster EHA Global, a mené la présente évaluation en juin 2016 pour soutenir les partenaires au niveau national dans le but de combler le manque d’information sur l’étendue des besoins dans le secteur EHA dans les zones les plus touchées par les déplacements de population. L’évaluation a eu pour but de faire un constat des conditions et de la gestion des infrastructures d’approvisionnement en eau, d’évaluer les conditions des latrines communes construites dans le cadre de la réponse d’urgence aux déplacements forcés. Retrouvez l’intégralit
é de l’études ainsi que les recommandations dans le rapport en suivant ce lien.

L’évaluation a mis en évidence une situation complexe au niveau des points d’eau de la région de Diffa. Elle a montré que ces points d’eau, même s’ils étaient majoritairement fonctionnels (à 70%) au moment de l’évaluation, restaient fortement sujets aux pannes sur des périodes prolongées. Ces pannes sont difficilement prises en charge par les comités de gestion (CG), et dans 17% des cas, les usagers réagissent par un recours à des stratégies dangereuses de consommation d’eau à des sources de qualité inférieure.

L’évaluation a aussi décrit plusieurs aspects spécifiques à la situation des latrines communes, des installations qui, bien que largement fonctionnelles (86%), souffrent du manque de moyens de la communauté. En filigrane, on observe aussi le rôle positif de sensibilisation aux pratiques d’hygiène élémentaire joué par les CG, qui mènent des campagnes de ce type dans les deux tiers des cas.

L’évaluation EHA a notamment permis de mettre l’accent sur le rôle positif joué par les CG dans la gestion et la maintenance des ouvrages d’eau et des latrines, de confirmer que la majorité des points d’eau évalués étaient fonctionnels en juin 2016, mais a aussi montré que des problèmes restaient présents et qu’une partie de la population était engagée dans des habitudes de consommation d’eau risquées. Le besoin d’une intervention pérenne avec des programmes de reconstruction, et non seulement dans l’urgence, se pose toujours pour les acteurs humanitaires présents dans la région.