Since 1975, Western Sahara, a former Spanish colony, has been claimed by both Morocco and the Polisario Front. Between 1975 and 1976, to escape the conflict, a large part of the population has fled to southwest Algeria.
Since the 1991 ceasefire, the UN has tried unsuccessfully to hold a referendum on self-determination, but Western Sahara remains a "territory without administration".
For more than 40 years, Sahrawi refugees - estimated by UNHCR at 175,000 people - have been living in isolated camps in the middle of the Sahara desert, subjected to extreme climatic conditions, without natural resources and entirely dependent on humanitarian aid.
Since 2001, TGH has supported this population with emergency interventions or sustainable solutions, and has been active in various areas:
The camps are supplied with aid by trucks from Algiers: a 2000 km journey on roads that severely challenge the vehicles.
Since 2002, TGH has been in charge of the Rabouni central mechanical workshop, which maintains and services generators and about sixty trucks, seventeen ambulances and many other vehicles that transport food and sanitary equipment.
TGH participates in the local health system by supporting infrastructure and ancillary services (laboratories and radiology services), and conducts regular HIV awareness and prevention campaigns.
Lack of hygiene is a source of many health problems, and also affects individuals’ dignity. TGH produces bleach and soap on site, which are distributed to institutions (schools and hospitals) and camps, and also provides hygiene kits for women and young girls.
People with disabilities are particularly vulnerable in refugee camps. TGH improves specialised centres and strengthens the management capacities of the Sahrawi Ministry of Social Welfare and the Advancement of Women.
TGH has also set up a personalised medical and social support service at home to maintain - or even improve - the physical condition of people with a motor-cerebral disability.
In 2015 and 2016, floods caused extensive damage to homes and infrastructure. TGH participated with other NGOs in a coordinated response to rebuild homes, schools and health centres.
TGH focused on the development of health facilities in schools, since poor hygiene, a source of disease, impacts absenteeism and therefore school failure. Gender sensitivity is also essential for girls' schooling: adapted latrines, equipped with locks, clearly separated from boys ones, and adapted to their specific needs, prevent them from having to return home (and possibly not to school).
Food Security and Livelihoods:
In a context of total lack of natural resources, it is necessary to invent innovative approaches to both food-related issues and economic activity, keeping in mind the objective of training populations so that they can become autonomous in the management of the structures implemented.
TGH has developed different programmes to meet this challenge: bakery, animal farming, family gardens, mechanical workshop…
In 2018, in partnership with the World Food Programme (WFP), TGH has built a fish farm that will contribute to food diversification with more animals’ proteins, and to boost local activity. Construction should be completed in early 2019, and the start of fish farming activities will be accompanied by technical training, which will eventually enable the local staff to fully take over the management of the farm.