West Africa

Supporting people across the Sahel and Nigeria

map of West Africa showing Sahara Desert

We work with Red Cross organisations across the region to help people earn a living and cope effectively with disasters.

We also support thousands of people who have fled their homes because of conflict.

Helping people earn a living across the Sahel

The Sahel region runs across several countries in West Africa. An Arabic word meaning ‘shore’, the Sahel forms a kind of coast between the Sahara desert to the north and the Savannah to the south.

A semi-arid region, the Sahel is prone to droughts in which people often lose their crops and livestock. This deprives them of both their food and their means of earning a living. Getting back to normal after the droughts and losses can be harder each time.

Sharing information to save lives

We help co-ordinate the work of ten Red Cross and Red Crescent organisations across the Sahel region. Our partners also include other organisations in the Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement such as the Livelihoods Resource Centre.

Together, we aim to make sure that we take the right steps when food crises threaten the Sahel. We also test how best to help people earn a living in these difficult conditions.

In Chad and Burkina Faso, we supported new initiatives and then shared information between countries. This allows successful projects to be carried out in other places as well.

We are also supporting the Burkina Faso Red Cross, Niger Red Cross and Mali Red Cross to prepare to use cash grants in their programmes. Cash grants have a double benefit. First, they help people caught up in drought or other emergencies to buy food or other goods and services they need. This spending also helps keep local markets going.

Nigeria: building skills to save lives

With conflict and in the north-east of the country, the Nigerian Red Cross is called on to support thousands of people in desperate conditions. This is on top of their regular work in preparing for disasters, first aid and other areas.

To help them do their best work, the British Red Cross supports the Nigerian Red Cross to improve their own projects. This includes looking at the way they plan, carry out and evaluate what they do. They can then learn from what worked well and what could be done better.

All Red Cross organisations around the world rely on volunteers to carry out our essential work. Nigerian Red Cross volunteers come from the communities they serve and often understand what is needed most.

Our support helps the Nigerian Red Cross to manage and train its volunteers, and to communicate better with them. Using what they learn, volunteers can reach people in need more effectively.