While effective collaboration in the fight against the pandemic is ongoing, some challenges are hampering the response process. The weak surveillance and alert system in Niger might obscure the real scope of the pandemic. Niger, which mostly limits screening to symptomatic cases, has a capacity of 1.8 tests per 10,000 people compared to 5.5 tests in Namibia for instance. The surveillance system needs to be strengthened nationwide including cross-border collaboration, ensuring that public health measures are taken on both sides of the porous borders. The country has a total of 54 air and land entry points.
Prior to the outbreak of COVID-19 pandemic, implementation of humanitarian operations was already hampered by various access constraints including persisting insecurity particularly in the West (Tillabéri and Tahoua), South and South-East (Maradi and Diffa) regions. The government’s extension of the state of emergency declared on 17 March for another three months in Diffa, and some Departments in the Tillaberi (10) and Tahoua (2) regions will impact the free movement of humanitarians and supplies. It will also disrupt adequate response to the growing food insecurity crisis.
Humanitarian access is further impeded by incidents against humanitarians including killings, carjacking and robberies. Since January, 425 security incidents have been registered in Niger (including 135 incidents directly impacting humanitarians and the provision of relief activities). Engaging in constant advocacy for the respect of humanitarian principles and international humanitarian law creates and enabling space aid actors.
Finally, the provision of timely assistance is hindered by insufficient funding. In the second half of the year, the joint 2020 Humanitarian Response Plan and COVID-19 response seeking US$ 509.8 million has received $98.7 million – only 19.4% funded. Immediate funding is urgently needed in order not to jeopardize the gains achieved so far and to provide timely assistance to the most vulnerable people.