April 20, 2021
Compounded Threats, Fragmented Responses: Is the Sahel Experiencing a Worsening Crisis?
The Sahel region faces a set of overlapping peace, security and development threats and challenges. In the same vein, the Sahel is replete with opportunities both natural and man-made. For example, the Sahel sits on the largest aquifer in the world, thus presenting opportunities in the areas of Agriculture, Renewable Energy and Water. The Sahel also has a large youth population, whose knowledge and number can be harnessed for various development purposes. Since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, the region has witnessed a stark increase in inter-communal conflict and an upsurge in terrorist attacks, with terrorist groups expanding their territorial foothold at an alarming rate. Response measures to curb the spread of the pandemic are jeopardizing the jobs and livelihoods of populations in the Sahel, most notably the informal sector. These compounded threats have together resulted in a worsened humanitarian situation, with rising food insecurity and large-scale displacement; creating life-threatening conditions for the millions of inhabitants of the region. In the face of such challenges, it is becoming increasingly apparent that the Sahel region is in dire need of a new modus operandi. To date, the plethora of strategies launched by the various actors on the different governance levels have been ineffective in capturing and addressing the complex realities on the ground. Now more than ever, Sahelian states must strive to promote interlinkages and synergies, both amongst themselves and with sub-regional, regional, and international organizations. Accordingly, this session will take stock of how the pandemic has affected international and continental peace and development efforts in the Sahel region. It will discuss the need for reassessing priorities for the Sahel region on the short, medium, and long terms, as well as the means to create greater synergies of approaches espoused by the actors concerned with the crisis in the region; with a view to ensuring coherent and integrated programming and funding for recovery and resilience building. It will also shed light on the imperative at taking a broader perspective of other ongoing efforts, existing and similar challenges facing the Lake Chad Basin.