In response to an increase in inter-community violence in Cameroon that has triggered an expanding refugee crisis in neighboring Chad, Education Cannot Wait (ECW) announced US$2.5 million in grant financing for new education in emergencies response that will reach 14,547 host communities and refugee children and adolescents in Chad’s border region. The new funding brings ECW’s total investments in Chad to US$36 million to date.
The 12-month grant will be delivered by UNHCR with local strategic partners and will support access to education through the inclusion of refugee children in the National Education System in the provinces of N’Djamena and Chari Baguirmi. The investment will reach over 7,700 girls and 1,400 children with disabilities, with targeted interventions for 2,200 pre-primary, 9,400 primary and 2,800 secondary-level students.
In August and December 2021, a wave of violence erupted in Cameroon’s Far North region. The escalating conflict is a result of growing communal tensions around the Lake Chad Basin as the region grapples with the immense challenges of endemic poverty, weak public services, chronic insecurity caused by protracted armed conflicts, and the evolving threats of climate change, environmental degradation, and competition over scarce resources.
“Violence, poverty, the climate crisis, COVID-19, and other connected emergencies put these children and adolescents at grave risk. Fleeing their homes and often separated from their families, these girls and boys are especially vulnerable to exploitation and abuse. We must ensure their human rights and provide them with the safety, hope, and opportunity of quality education,” said Yasmine Sherif, Director of Education Cannot Wait, the United Nations global fund for education in emergencies and protracted crises.
The climate crisis is a reality in this region of the Sahel where temperatures are rising 1.5 times faster than the global average and the UN estimates that 80% of farmland is degraded. Over the past 60 years, the surface of Lake Chad, of which the Logone River is one of the main tributaries, has decreased by as much as 95%.
“With over 60% of the newly arrived refugees being children, a strong education response is fundamental to ensuring the protection and well-being of the population. Schooling provides not only academics, but also physical safety, psychological support, and socioemotional stability for children facing displacement, trauma, and uncertainty. This investment, with its focus on girls’ empowerment and inclusive education for children with disabilities, will change the lives of these children and the host communities welcoming them,” said Papa Kysma Sylla, UNHCR Representative in Chad.
The recent major outbreak of violence forced tens of thousands of refugees to flee into neighboring Chad in August and December 2021, while around 40,000 people were displaced within Cameroon. Chad hosts over half a million ‘people of concern’ and 45,000 refugees from Cameroon – among them, more than 20,000 children – according to UNHCR. While the Government of Chad has committed to offering refugee children and adolescents the right to access the National Education System, the arrival of new refugees is straining local resources.
The ECW investment supports teacher training including on topics specific to mental health and psychosocial support, gender responsiveness, gender-based violence, and inclusive teaching methodologies. The grant will also support the construction of classrooms, administrative offices, and latrines to ensure that children, specifical girls, have access to toilets and boreholes for drinkable water at school. In line with the community-based approach, funding will enhance Parent-Teacher Associations, Mothers Associations, and Girls’ Clubs in schools.
This new ECW First Emergency Response will build on existing ECW investments in Chad, including results delivered through ECW’s Multi-Year Resilience Programme. In February 2020, ECW announced US$21 million in funding to support the multi-year program, which seeks to mobilize a total of US$51 million to support quality education for 230,000 crisis-affected children and adolescents. ECW investments in Chad have included a US$10 million Initial Investment, a US$1.6 million COVID-19 response issued in April 2020, and a US$1 million grant in response to the influx of refugees fleeing violence from the Central African Republic allocated in April 2021.
Original Source: Education Cannot Wait