What are the needs?
Since its independence from Portugal in 1974, Guinea-Bissau has lurched from one coup to another resulting in chronic instability, a lack of investments as well as basic services. It is one of the poorest countries in the world with the 5th highest infant mortality. The EU does not recognise the transitional authorities brought to power after the most recent coup in April 2012. Only EU funds to cover humanitarian and emergency needs have therefore been maintained.
Efforts to contain a cholera outbreak in 2012-2013 proved difficult. The plunging world price of Guinea-Bissau’s main export product, cashew nuts, has prompted the country to seek food assistance in August 2013. Half the population is reportedly facing food shortages.
How are we helping?
The European Commission's Humanitarian Aid and Civil Protection department (ECHO) has devised a regional strategy for the early detection of and response to cholera outbreaks. This strategy covers various West African coastal states including Guinea-Bissau where cholera is endemic and cross-border propagation occurs. In Guinea-Bissau, ECHO has supported partners to improve the detection, treatment and referral of cholera cases following difficulties to contain and end the latest epidemic.
Pending a more thorough analysis of the country’s food security situation, ECHO is involved in strategic discussions with its development counterparts on ways to decrease the country’s extremely high infant and maternal mortality.