This is according to a finding by Doctors Without Borders/ Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) International, an international humanitarian non-governmental organization working in these regions.
Africa’s Sahel region stretches across the continent from east to west—a semiarid belt that lies between the Saharan desert to north and the Sudanian savanna to the south. Lake Chad Basin regions include North Eastern Nigerian Cameroon’s Far North Region, Western Chad and south-eastern Niger.
The Organization says its teams are treating an increasing number of patients for psychological disorders and trauma-related mental health needs during their emergency interventions after attacks, including among children.
It adds that it has had to incorporate mental health care into their projects owing to lack of trained specialists across Mali, Niger, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, and Nigeria.
“There is a huge demand for psychological care but not enough providers. Most of the countries in the region do not have trained psychologists, psychiatrists, or psychiatric nurses, so MSF has incorporated mental health care into our projects in these areas,” the organization says in a statement.
The region has historically experienced the most consistent and extreme droughts in Africa, which severely impact the livelihoods of people here, many of whom are semi-nomadic.
Data by MSF also reveals that for the last decade, ethno-religious tensions, political instability, poverty, armed conflict, and natural disasters have plagued these two regions, resulting in food insecurity, mass displacement of people, and outbreaks of disease.
The focus of international and local governments is on security and strategies to fight against armed groups, neglecting the humanitarian consequences.
In both the central Sahel and Lake Chad Basin, non-state armed groups strengthen their influence by filling gaps in governance and providing basic services to neglected communities, sometimes including health care.
“Despite growing needs, the humanitarian response remains insufficient. In some areas, MSF is the only humanitarian agency present and the only health care provider.”
According to MSF, communities in these regions are exposed to violent attacks, targeted killings, abductions, and harassment. Schools, health centers, and places of worship are frequently targeted.
Author: Margaret Njuguna