The Lake Chad Basin: an overlooked crisis?
by Humanitarian Practice Network October 2017

The 70th edition of Humanitarian Exchange, co-edited with Joe Read, focuses on the humanitarian crisis in Nigeria and the Lake Chad Basin. The violence perpetrated by Boko Haram and the counter-insurgency campaign in Nigeria, Cameroon, Chad and Niger has created a humanitarian crisis affecting some 17 million people. Some 2.4 million have been displaced, the vast majority of them in north-eastern Nigeria. Many are living in desperate conditions, without access to sufficient food or clean water. The Nigerian government’s focus on defeating Boko Haram militarily, its reluctance to acknowledge the scale and gravity of the humanitarian crisis and the corresponding reticence of humanitarian leaders to challenge that position have combined to undermine the timeliness and effectiveness of the response.

  • In the overview article, Toby Lanzer, former Regional Humanitarian Coordinator for the Sahel, reflects on the factors that have contributed to the crisis and the delayed response.
  • Virginia Comolli analyses the evolution and impact of Boko Haram.
  • Patricia McIlreavy and Julien Schopp explore the collective failure of the humanitarian system to mount a timely, effective and principled response to the humanitarian crisis the conflict has triggered.
  • In their contributions, Virginie Roiron and Zainab Murtala and Bashir Abubakar explain how the Nigerian government’s approach to disaster management, compounded by a difficult relationship between federal and state governments, has contributed to this failure.
  • Natalie Roberts examines Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF)’s decision to speak out on the humanitarian emergency in the Bama displacement camp in Borno State.
  • Chitra Nagarajan outlines CIVIC’s work on civilian protection with the Nigerian military.
  • Joe Read highlights the particular protection threats facing women and girls exposed to sexual violence and abuse.
  • Luana Giardinelli explores mental health and psychosocial needs among conflict-affected people.
  • Sara Karimbhoy highlights the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF)’s response to displacement in Northern Cameroon.
  • The edition ends with an article by Matias Meier on the innovative use of an adaptive programming approach in the Diffa region in Niger.