Central & West Africa region: Plan Int’l commits to intensify humanitarian response in fragile, security-sensitive context.

Officials of non-governmental humanitarian, solidarity and development organisation, Plan International, have pledged to scale up humanitarian response in fragile and security-sensitive contexts in the Central and West Africa region.

The commitment, Plan International leaders noted, is to respond to the growing scale and complexity of the challenges facing children, particularly girls, and young women. 

The assurance formed one of the key recommendations taken at the close of a weeklong Regional Leadership Team meeting which Plan International Cameroon hosted in Yaounde from September 18-22. 

The recommendation to scale up humanitarian impact was read out to reporters by the Country Director of Plan International Togo, Awa Faly Ba, Friday September 22, 2023.

This was at the press conference at the end of the one-week meeting. Responding to questions from reporters at the presser were Plan International Sahel Director, Fatoumata Haidara; Plan International Cameroon Country Director, Mohamend Bah, and a youth representative, a representative of the regional youth advisory panel, Beltivate. 

The Regional Leadership Team meeting had a strong delegation including representatives from Plan International's 15 countries in Central and West Africa, Europe, the Americas, the regional office and international headquarters. 

It was attended by leaders of Plan International Country Offices, national organisations, the Africa Union Liaison Office, Global Hub and West Africa Coastal Areas Regional Hub.

Reflections hinged on the implications of scaling up the humanitarian response in fragile and security-sensitive contexts, as well as deepen focus on girls' rights and increase focus on young people.

In addition to deepening its focus on girls' rights and becoming increasingly youth-centric and intensifying humanitarian impact, the officials said is also a top priority of its global strategy (2022-2027), All Girls Standing Strong Creating Global Change.


Zoom on recommendations 

Aside the resolve to increase the humanitarian impact in the Central and West Africa region, Plan International leaders also agreed to engage actions to use evidence to improve the quality of programs, advocacy and influence in the context of the fragile and security-sensitive environment of the Central and West Africa region. 

They also resolved to build on the work and impact of national offices in Central and West Africa, with a focus on strengthening cooperation with the AU Liaison Office, ECOWAS and ECCAS.

Officials also agreed to commit to working well together to implement regional value proposition (lead, protect, serve, connect) by strengthening presence and coordination in humanitarian clusters. 

They also agreed to rely on local and contextual resources, including human resources and various partnerships, for greater efficiency in emergency operations on the ground which they said would be achieved through better-equipped leadership.


Press conference proper 

Responding to questions from reporters, Plan International Sahel Director, Fatoumata Haidara, thanked government of Cameroon for cooperation and facilitating arrival of delegates to the strategic leadership meeting.  

She said Cameroon was chosen to host the meeting because they the country remains strategic to issues of humanitarian response.

On his part, Plan International Cameroon Country Director, Mohamed Bah, harped on the need for more media collaboration to report on their activities despite their limited resources. 

He said through collaboration, the media can be included in projects they write so that during execution, funds from the said projects are allocated for them to properly report on the activities.  

Bah despite challenges faced in conflict-hit regions, Plan International Cameroon, intends to do more.

“We want to meet more people, to provide humanitarian assistance to more people, more girls, more boys, more women, more families and we want to do it better. We want to provide more quality protection for those girls, more quality education to make sure that even in the circumstances of crisis, the rights of girls to education, protection, dignity are assured,” he said, adding that the organisation is ambitious. 

The Cameroon Country Director said with lack of resources to provide to all in need added to multiplicity in different local organisations and groups doing similar activities in regions they operate in, the organisation focuses on ensuring a synergy in action to work together for more effectiveness and more efficiency. 

“So we intend to work more and more with partners from government, from communities, other international organisations like us and private sector actors,” he said, adding that Plan International is like a catalyst to accelerate and improve the process. 

On overcoming challenges in conflict-hit regions, Fatoumata Haidara said, the organisation leverages on partnerships thanks to their strong presence in communities to carry out their activities and reach the most vulnerable. 

Their over two decades presence in the field, the Country Director said, gives the organisation an upper hand within communities hit by crisis as the population has identified with them as an organisation not there because of crisis and will not leave after crisis. 


Enter youth actor 

On her part, the representative of the regional youth advisory panel, Beltivate, said based on what has been gathered through the weeklong meeting, they will ensure effective planning and implementation process in order to avoid limitations.

Beltivate said the meeting was an opportunity to remind Plan International leaders to always involve youth in their activities and for their suggestions to always be put into account. She said they will also follow-up with country offices to make sure youth activities are being implemented.


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