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The Sahel Alliance
The Sahel has a wealth of natural resources, untapped possibilities for agricultural production, a young population and huge renewable energy potential. At the same time the region has been hit by multiple crises – droughts brought about by climate change, cross-border terrorism, fragile statehood, movements of refugees in the region and food insecurity.
In July 2017, Germany, France and the European Union founded the Sahel Alliance in order to support the Sahel countries in dealing with these challenges. Other countries and organisations soon joined them.
On 10 July 2023, Minister Svenja Schulze took over the Presidency of the Sahel Alliance. She has focussed her presidency on changes that will make sustainable and tangible improvements in the situation of the people in the Sahel.
The members of the Sahel Alliance
The Sahel Alliance was founded in July 2017 by Germany, France and the European Union. It now has 18 members and nine observers who coordinate their activities in the region closely with one another:
- African Development Bank
- European Investment Bank
- European Union
- United Kingdom
- United Nations Development Programme
- United States of America
- West African Development Bank
- World Bank
Impacts of the Sahel Alliance
The portfolio of measures in which the members of the Sahel Alliance are engaged comprises more than 1,400 projects, initiatives and model interventions with a financial volume of more than 28 billion euros. This extensive engagement means that the Sahel Alliance is not only able to have an impact at the project level, it is also a relevant forum for the donor community to coordinate political priorities.
Cooperation within the Alliance focuses on five priority sectors:
- Education and youth employment
- Agriculture, rural development and food security
- Energy and water
- Decentralisation and basic services
With the support of Sahel Alliance projects, almost 1.5 million hectares of land in the Sahel is being farmed sustainably. This is an area more than five times the size of Luxembourg. Almost three million people have received food aid since the Sahel Alliance was founded and over 500,000 people have taken advice about farming techniques or running a business.
Going beyond this project work, the Sahel Alliance has also developed an integrated territorial approach (approche territoriale intégrée) in order to improve cooperation between actors from the fields of security, humanitarian assistance and development cooperation. This approach is being implemented in the Sahel countries in selected regions and in close cooperation with the local authorities in each case.
What Germany is doing
The portfolio of the Sahel Alliance includes more than 180 bilateral projects under German development cooperation with a financial volume of 2.26 billion euros. This is 9.5 per cent of the total activities in which the Sahel Alliance is engaged, making Germany the fourth-biggest donor after the World Bank (47.2 per cent), France (11.3 per cent) and the EU (10.2 per cent).
The Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) chaired the Operational Steering Committee of the Sahel Alliance for three years, up to June 2022. Numerous impulses came from the Ministry during this period. For example, the BMZ launched a multi-donor fund in order to be able to take action in fragile zones more quickly. One of the special characteristics of this fund is that representatives of the Sahel countries are involved in its management.
Germany is also the head of the working group “Decentralisation and basic services” and would like to continue shining a stronger spotlight on this topic. In the vast countries of the Sahel, decentralisation is a prerequisite for ensuring that people in all regions have access to basic services like water and healthcare.
German Presidency of the Sahel Alliance
During her Presidency, the Minister has placed an emphasis on getting the work of the Sahel Alliance oriented even more towards realising direct improvements for the people living in the region (“Deliver better”). This is to be achieved by improving how the initiatives and programmes to support the region intersect with one another (“Coordinate stronger”). The Sahel is becoming more and more of an area of interest for various international players and for extremists. The Sahel Alliance members want to and can do more as a group to counter these tendencies and to raise their own visibility in the partner countries where they are active (“Communicate jointly”). The priorities of the programme for the German Presidency have been decided in close consultation with the Sahel countries.
During her Presidency, Development Minister Svenja Schulze will be lobbying for the following priorities:
- Creating paths out of the crisis by offering more education, training and employment: Education and jobs enable people to steer clear of extremist groups. Most of the young people in the Sahel are not getting recruited by terrorist groups because of their beliefs or convictions; in many cases they just need an income and the chance to be part of society.
- Making societies more resilient through social protection and food security: Under the umbrella of the Sahel Alliance, national systems for basic social protection will be expanded so that people are better able to withstand crises and climate-related shocks. At the same time, efforts will be made to press ahead on long-term solutions for food security.
- Preventing the erosion of government control in certain areas and providing people with basic services: Strong municipal structures build trust and social cohesion. They provide basic services such as water, healthcare and education, but also market places. This makes it possible for the people in the Sahel to build a basis for their lives and for earning an income, tackling some of the problems that are a breeding ground for extremism.
Promoting employment with a special focus on the needs of women is already an important area of activity for the Sahel Alliance.
As at: 08/02/2024