"SWAC is the oldest initiative of solidarity and partnership between the OECD and Africa."
Anne De Lattre, founder and Director of the "Club du Sahel" in 1976
The “Club du Sahel” was founded by Sahelian countries and OECD member countries in Dakar in 1976 to raise international support and awareness of the drought crises in the Sahel. For the first 25 years, the Club’s key mission was to provide support to the Permanent Inter-State Committee of Drought Control in the Sahel (CILSS) and to mobilise support from the OECD Development Assistance Committee (DAC) countries, which led to a significant increase in Official Development Assistance (ODA) to the Sahel region. It also facilitated the creation of the Food Crisis Prevention Network (RPCA) and the Network of Farmers’ Organisations and Agricultural Producers of West Africa (ROPPA). Following a large-scale consultation process facilitated by CILSS and SWAC, the Food Aid Charter was adopted in 1990, which outlined many of the principles that were later included in the Paris Declaration on Aid Effectiveness. West Africa is currently one of the most prepared regions for preventing and managing food crises.
In response to growing regional interdependence, the Club’s geographic focus was extended in 2001 to encompass all West African countries. The Club was consequently renamed the “Sahel and West Africa Club” (SWAC). While deepening its partnership with CILSS, it has also developed strong relationships with the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and the West African Economic and Monetary Union (UEMOA).
SWAC has contributed to strategic thinking and facilitated the development of various common regional strategies and policies, in particular in the fields of agriculture, cross-border co-operation, conflict prevention, climate change, livestock and migration. By promoting regional action, SWAC work has helped highlight that contemporary global challenges are all part of a puzzle of interdependent regional challenges.
In 2010, Club Members launched a deep reform process, which led to the approval of a new Mandate with a new governance structure and a redefined relationship with the OECD. As a result, ECOWAS, UEMOA and CILSS joined the Club as Members in January 2011.