Humanitarian action


The Humanitarian Action Office


Humanitarian Action aims to protect and save lives, to prevent and alleviate human suffering, to support people’s basic and immediate needs and promote their rights in order to reduce vulnerability and develop capacity building.


Four humanitarian principles 


Humanitarian assistance must be given according to the fundamental humanitarian principles of impartiality, neutrality, independence.

  • Humanity: the founding principles of humanitarian action are designed to alleviate and prevent human suffering, save lives and restore human dignity.
  • Impartiality: Humanitarian assistance should be guided solely by needs of people, without discrimination among affected populations or between themselves.
  • Neutrality: Humanitarian assistance must be provided without taking sides for one of the opposing parties or engaging in armed conflict.
  • Independence: Humanitarian action must be autonomous from the political, economic, military or other objectives that any actor may hold with regard to areas where humanitarian action is being implemented.


The Humanitarian Action Office (OAH) in the Sahel and West Africa: OAH has a regional office for the Sahel and West Africa, housed at the Technical Cooperation Office in Dakar and which primary mission is to strengthen coherence, capacity and effectiveness of the humanitarian response of OAH in the region.


The priority sectors are as follows:

Food and Nutrition Security: Mali, Niger and Mauritania account for 8 of the 20 million people who need food assistance in 2014. These households experience a chronic need of assistance because of the poor agricultural and pastoral forecasts that occur cyclically, with the price increase and both linked to access and availability of products on the market.


Water, sanitation and hygiene: each year, millions of people are at risk of cholera due to limited access to water and sanitation, without mentioning other negative impacts due to direct consequences of this limitation affecting food security, nutrition as well as the production capacity and resilience of those populations.


Health: Health systems in the region have a greater or lesser extent of the structural issues that make it difficult for populations to have access to basic services, so that humanitarian responses will specifically target the management of malnutrition and associated diseases, epidemics and strengthening local teams facing them.


Protection: movements of populations (displaced, refugees and their return) still continue across the region. The needs of these populations, in addition to food or health care, are about information (knowing whether the situation in their native environment allows them to return would help them make reasonable decisions) or psychosocial issues, especially for women and children.