Two of the most acute humanitarian crises in the world are currently taking place in the central Sahel and Lake Chad Basin 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. 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.
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. Despite growing needs, the humanitarian response remains insufficient. In some areas, Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) is the only humanitarian agency present and the only health care provider.
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.