On the front lines of a crisis
On 3 December 2019, "Ibrahim" (left), 14, plays with his brother inside their shelter in Kaya, Burkina Faso. Ibrahim and his 12 siblings share two tents erected in a location adjacent to a public school [Photo: Vincent Tremeau 2019]. They were displaced from their hometown, 80 km away, because of insecurity in the area. After their father brought them to Kaya in October 2019, Ibrahim’s sister "Fatim" took care of all of the siblings by herself for a time. Later, with the help of Children Believe (Christian Children’s Fund of Canada), UNHCR and UNICEF, the children were provided with tents and reunited with family members; they now have an adult living with them. Ibrahim is visibly distraught by the situation the children have experienced.
The humanitarian situation in Burkina Faso was one of the fastest growing crises of 2019. The number of violent security incidents significantly increased compared with previous years, and inter-community conflicts have added another complex dimension to the crisis. In 2020, more than 2.2 million people will be in need of humanitarian assistance, including 1.2 million children. The number of people who have been forcibly displaced has risen from 87,000 in January 2019 to nearly 487,000 in October 2019 (44 per cent children), and the country is also hosting nearly 27,000 Malian refugees. An estimated 91 per cent of internally displaced persons are settled in host communities that are growing increasingly vulnerable. UNICEF estimates that 330,000 children in affected regions are in need of psychosocial support. Insecurity has also severely impacted basic social services: over 2,000 schools are closed, affecting 330,000 children and 9,000 teachers; and 69 health facilities are closed. This situation is dire.
A lot can change in one year
In early 2019, after a long period of planning and coordination, a group of Child Protection partners - including Terre des Hommes Lausanne and UNICEF Burkina Faso and the UNICEF WCA Regional Office - came together to rollout out the CPIMS+ in support of the Ministry-led social services strengthening initiative. More than 100 case workers were trained and supported with mentoring to begin managing their caseloads in CPIMS+, which reached 1200 active cases. The idea that parts of the country would fall into such a crisis in so short a time was not on anyone's minds.
Fast forward one year, and this situation is one of the most urgent protection crises in the world. This is a complex emergency. In order to respond to the needs of these children, CPIMS+ partners are gearing up and expanding in Burkina Faso. This month, with the financial and technical support of UNICEF Burkina Faso and the UNICEF WCA Regional Office, Terre des Hommes Lausanne brought together a dozen case work professionals in Ouagadougou for a one-week intensive train-the-trainers workshop, focusing on the scale-up and administration of the CPIMS+. This training will be used to amplify the case work capacity of the Ministry in charge of the child protection response to reach thousands more children with protection services. Deploying more case workers to the conflict-affected regions, as well as the data management capacity to handle the reporting and analysis of data, the child protection response is in a position to leverage existing CPIMS+ tools, features and processes that could normally take months to get in place.
Bridging the humanitarian-development nexus
The humanitarian-development nexus, as it is called, is often understood to refer to the need for interventions in humanitarian action to lead to sustainable, long-term impact. But this also applies in the other direction. The resilience of social services systems that have been harmonized around common procedures and shared information management systems is much greater when an emergency strikes. These systems are ready to scale up, adapt and accommodate the emergency response. Shared systems bring partners together, improve efficiencies, inform quick decision making, and save valuable resources. This is a pattern we have seen repeated in many contexts. Integrated service models that are bound together by well-coordinated data management respond better, manage caseloads with more integrity, and generate better results.
Less than a year ago, we were celebrating the launch of the CPIMS+ as part of a national systems strengthening strategy (see video below). Today, we are seeing how this investment is helping Burkina Faso address one of the world's most pressing emergencies. Children deserve strategies that respond to the changing situations around them, situations that are beyond their control. The CPIMS+ has a role to play.
We are proud of our partners Burkina Faso for their tireless commitment to children.