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Promoting access to quality, safe, and relevant education for all persons affected by crisis

EiE Crisis Spotlight: Côte d’Ivoire

Location of Crisis

Côte d'Ivoire: around the country, but especially in the west where armed attacks near the Liberian border caused more than a dozen deaths and the displacement of 4,000 people in March 2013.

In the North, the country faces the difficulties and factors of vulnerability of the Sahel countries, a situation of precarious food security and nutrition.

Timing of Crisis

According to the BBC, in December 2010, the election commission declares Mr Ouattara the winner of the run-off. However, the political crisis occurred when the former president did not want to step back after losing. Dispute between the two camps soon escalates into violence. After the elections violence erupted and caused the displacement of hundreds of thousands.

The Reliefweb states that Côte d'Ivoire has been experiencing certain sociopolitical and economic stability since the post-electoral crisis in 2010 and 2011. Even though the country is still fragile, this progressive stability has allowed the return of the majority of the displaced Ivorians who have fled their places of origin to find refuge either in neighboring countries or inside their own country.

However, according to UNHCR, although Côte d'Ivoire is gradually returning to normalcy after the violence that followed the 2010 presidential elections, the security challenges that the country still faces discourage citizens who fled abroad from returning. The country still suffers from structural weaknesses and geographical imbalances between Abidjan and the rest of the country (for more information see bellow: Brief Description of the Situation)

Affected Populations

UNICEF states that following a decade of socio-political turmoil, which ended with widespread armed violence in 2011, the return of peace has not yet gave way to viable solutions to millions of children who remain affected by a silent emergency in the country. The humanitarian needs of the population remain a concern to the government but often go unaddressed in light of multiple priorities in this fragile post-conflict context.

According to the New York Times, more than 150,000 Ivorians fled to Liberia in the wake of the country’s post-election violence in 2010, and more than 60,000 are still there.

In Abidjan, civilians go as far as possible of the violent clashes in the city.
According to UNHCR, some 46,000 Ivorians who were internally displaced still live with host families, while those who have returned home are struggling to rebuild their lives. Many Ivorian refugees who fled to neighboring countries have returned, but there is a need to ensure their reintegration.The agency states that by January 2013, there were 100,689 refugees and around 72,845 Ivorians refugees returnees. More than 10,000 Ivorians have returned home so far this year from Liberia.The landmark was passed late last week. The refugees, mostly living in camps and communities in Grand Gedeh, Nimba, Maryland and River Gee counties in Liberia, have returned to areas such as Toulepleu, Tabou and Danane in the west. According to the last UNHCR Information Sharing Portal, the total of ivorian refugees returnees is of 218,840.

Save the Children declares that over a million people, half of whom are believed children, are displaced today in the African nation of Côte d'Ivoire. The organisation Graines de Paix highlights that the impact of the violent trouble have had a devastating impact on civilians, in particular among children and young people, those under 25 years old represent 70% of the Ivorian population. The refugee young people in Liberia represent an importnat part of the population and in particular the ones who played an active role in the post electoral crisis. These young refugees (mostly males) fear retaliation if they return to the communities.

According to a WFP and UNHCR report, A long way Home: A report on food security and living conditions at the Ivorian-Liberian border, despite the intent to return to their communities in Côte d'Ivoire, most of the refugees fear the strong presence of armed men in the region responsible for repeated attacks (especially as refugees are mainly women and children). According to UNICEF, despite continous efforts, risks of violence and abuse against children and women remain high, worsened by the lack of access to justice for victims and impunity.

Many Ivorian children and young people face tremendous socioeconomic hardship. According to SOS Children’s Villages International, children, in particular young boys, continue to be used by pro-government militias and other armed forces. Despite the government increased efforts to stop the use of child soldiers, a number of reports have shown that children continue to be associated with both the militias and oppositional forces. There has been  also the sexual abuse of girls by people affiliated to the armed groups and the United Nations peacekeeping mission.The vast majority of the 1.1 million orphans grow up without any support, struggling to survive as street children in the country's urban centres, begging for food and money. They are extremely vulnerable to commercial sexual exploitation, child labour and recruitment by armed gangs. Children are also frequently forced into labour, particularly in cocoa plantations.

Brief Description of the Situation

In 2002, a civil war split the country between rebel-held north and government-controlled south. Since then, peace deals have alternated with renewed violence as the country has slowly edged its way towards a political resolution of the conflict. After repeated delays, elections aimed at ending the conflict were finally held in October 2010. But the vote led to more unrest and further violence.

Shalk Van Zydan/AP ©
Supporters of Ivoiry Coast opposition leader Adassane Ouattara run as government troops arrive to break up a demostration in Abidjan during the post-elections.
According to OCHA, the 2010-2011 post-electoral crisis has had a considerable impact on the degradation of the level of vulnerability of the populations, particularly in the west part of the country.

In September 2011, the Truth, Reconciliation and Dialogue Commission was launched. It was aimed at forging unity after post-election violence that left about 3,000 people dead and 500,000 displaced.However, according to a Security Council Report, progress on reconciliation has remained slow. The Commission is struggling to produce concrete results.

The WFP and UNHCR report, states the political crisis in the country in 2011 had a significant impact on food security, agriculture and livelihoods of Ivorian people and caused large population movements from western Côte d'Ivoire to east of Liberia.

However, UNHCR highlights that tensions between communities remain high in the western part of the country, in particular on issues related to land. The humanitarian space will remain jeopardized until the disarmament, demobilization and reintegration into society of ex-combatants is complete.According to the Security Council report, between October 2012 and April 2013, more than 4,000 former combatants were disarmed and demobilised, some of whom are in the process of being employed in public service positions.

The WFP and UNHCR report declares that in 2012, the humanitarian response was concentrated on the assistance of the return of displaced (refugees included) as well as the host communities and families. However, the regions of return are still marked by the insufficiency of basic services and support to returnees to ensure their durable return.

People in the west, the area of origin of the majority of Ivoirian refugees, have limited access to basic services. With return movements accelerating, the humanitarian community must take vital measures to address the returnees' most urgent needs and prevent fresh inter-community clashes. Returns will not be sustainable without protection monitoring, the rehabilitation of villages and the provision of adequate shelter and basic services.

Impact on Education

An OCHA report concerning the humanitarian needs in the phase of transition in 2013, certain zones face high levels of vulnerability of the population, principally due to the lack of food security, social cohesion, access to basic social needs (health, education, potable water, food) and the rehabilitation needs.

According to UNICEF, concerning the impact of the crisis on education, schools in many regions of the country stayed closed for monthsMany schools were destroyed and the government does not have the financial means to build them back, leaving many children with no access to basic education. According to the organization ACTED, thousands of Ivorian children have dropped out of school because of pillaging and destruction of school buildings, a majority of which are located in economic capital Abidjan.

According to the Save the Children Country Director in 2011, the impact could be long-term. He explained how the school year was seriously disrupted and that children who could not go to school during the crisis were more likely to drop out and never return even when the crisis is over. 

Children attend a UNICEF-sponsored education session in the empty swimming pool of an abandoned holiday complex, now a settlement for displaced people in the west.
According to different sources, when post-electoral violence reached its peak, hundreds of thousands of children could not attend school. Certain regions were hardly hit by a strong dropout rate, particularly in the western portion of the country and in Abidjan, where the fighting reached peaks of violence. In those areas, considerable damage was inflicted by armed forces and pillaging. According to SOS Children’s Village International, some schools were used by the armed forces and thus remained closed. Although a number of non-governmental organizations had been trying to get the students back to class as soon as possible, many schools could not be re-opened as quickly as they had hoped. However, since May 2011, roughly 85 per cent of children in the country's North and West have returned to the classroom.

The organization also states that in the zones of return where the displaced population also lives, there is a high demand on education. The management and organizational structures in early childhood settings are nearly inexistent and the capacity of reception of primary schools are insufficient for welcoming school age children. Such situation does not help displaced and returnees children to acces education and this situation could be a source of conflict between the host and the others families.

UNICEF declares that there is more than 4,200 preschool- aged and 7,500 school-aged displaced children who do not have access to quality education, mostly because of the lack of classrooms and teachers. There is also a lack of birth certificates which constitute an obstacle to access to education for children of the return zones.

Finally, there is a lack of school infrastructure which continues to affect the quality of education and the daily learning conditions of students.


Education Actors Responding to the Crisis

According to the OCHA Response plan report 2013, the following actors are responding to the crisis:

Before the immensity of the task, the private sector is getting involved.

Needs and Challenges

According to the 2013 OCHA report on Côte d'Ivoire Humanitarian Needs, the priority interventions are the following:

  • Access to quality education
  • Maintain vulnerable children from return zones in schools.

The report highlight the following strategies of intervention :

  • Establishment of community centers of early childhood services
  • School equipment
  • Distribution of school kits to student, teachers and other educational staff
  • Teacher trainings
  • Establishment of alternative education: parallel classes, remedial courses
  • Supply of school meals
  • Help access civil documentation
  • Psychosocial support for students

According to Graines de Paix, Côte d'Ivoire is in need of an education project which contribute to appease tensions and to prevent eventual future conflicts.

According to UNHCR and WFP, ongoing programs aiming at rebuilding houses, schools, health centers, and water points need to be continued.  Awareness raising for free education needs to be reinforced to encourage children (and in particular young girls) to regularly attend school.

Different sources highlight the following needs and challenges:

  • Improve the level of security as children have to walk distances to go to school in certain rural areas.
  • Build satellite schools closer to habitants using a modified approach of the “homeschooling teaching strategy”, deep in the country. “Flying in teachers” might be an alternative.
  • Electrify schools and if possible to electrify the main villages in the country.
  • Centralize information on the Ministry of Education database. Education specialists need to get reliable data and analyze them on a continuous basis to improve the system.
  • Make partnerships with regional or international organizations to offer professional development opportunities to educators who will receive a required list of virtual trainings to attend for each academic year

Tools and Resources

The following key INEE resources in English and French can be used to support EiE efforts in Côte d'Ivoire.



Key Information Sources



Key Words

Internal displacement, Refugees, Safe learning spaces, poverty, primary and Secondary education access and quality.


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