Ending insecurity in the Sahel requires a regional approach, says the UNDP

Feb 13, 2015

The installation of a grain mill in the village of Soufi, Mauritania. Photo: Oumou Sow / UNDP Mauritania

Paris  – “The Sahel faces complex challenges to peace, stability and development,” said Ruby Sandhu-Rojon, the Deputy Regional Director of the UNDP Regional Bureau for Africa, as France launched the Sahel Cross-Border Cooperation Assistance Programme (ACTS). “To end insecurity, the region requires a regional approach and a coalition of the willing.”  

“With chronic poverty, food insecurity worsened by climate shocks and conflicts, cross-border criminal activity and the heightened threat of terrorism, we need a new approach,” Ms. Sandhu-Rojon continued, speaking in Paris to the ministers of the interior and of security of Burkina Faso, Mali and Niger. “We must combine national and transnational interventions to address the situations of extreme vulnerability that the Sahelian populations confront,”

“In an area the size of the European Union, with a population comparable to that of France, the countries of the Sahel face huge challenges beyond the permeability of borders alone. Our response must address more than the security aspect. It must be based on human security and development to ensure that safe borders allow the circulation of goods and persons.”

“Beyond developing the capacities of border control agencies and strengthening the presence of the State in those regions, interactions with the populations must improve so that they can take ownership of efforts in the areas of security and justice, while promoting cross-border trade, which is critical to the populations’ food security and income.”

The UNDP has thus conducted surveys in the field to help shape its future programmes, focusing on the proliferation of light weapons and cross-border dynamics and communities. As part of the United Nations Integrated Strategy for the Sahel, and in synergy with the activities conducted by the ACTS project in the border regions, the UNDP is developing a project to strengthen human security and involve the populations in developing policies to manage cross-border areas.

With support from the Government of Japan, the UNDP began implementation of a $20 million programme two years ago, emphasizing peace consolidation, strengthened governance and resilience in Burkina Faso, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, and Chad.

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