The “War of the Sahel” may be one of the major events of the 2010s. A decade after the September 11 attacks, the international conflict that has just begun in Mali involves, in fact, the entire Saharo-Sahelian belt, from the Atlantic to the Red Sea. No matter what the modalities, this global conflict is likely to last, and half of West Africa is directly threatened by it. To free the area from the rampant criminal organisations that feed off drug trafficking, hostage taking, arms trade, human trafficking and cigarette smuggling, there is no other option than regional solidarity. > read on
Former SWAC Secretariat Director, Normand Lauzon, recently passed away
It is with sadness that we announce the death of Normand Lauzon, who served as Director of the SWAC Secretariat from January 2004 to September 2009. Normand passed away on 18 January 2013 aged 68, after suffering for a few years from a rare illness. The Secretariat staff and the President of the Club send their condolences to his family and friends. He will be remembered by all for his kindness, humour and generosity. In West Africa he leaves the image of a man of integrity, who was dedicated and deeply committed to the region.
Members of the Food Crisis Prevention Network (RPCA) met from 4 to 6 December in Ouagadougou to assess the regional food and nutrition situation and perspectives, and make recommendations for national, regional and international policy makers. This year's thematic focus was placed on the topic of "water management and food security". Participants also took stock of progress made in the application of the Charter for Food Crisis Prevention and Management as well as the creation of new communications tools to strengthen the network's visibility and impact. Moreover, the RPCA meeting provided the framework for the launching of the Global Alliance for Resilience Initiative – Sahel and West Africa (AGIR). > Summary Conclusions | > Final Communiqué | > Presentations
Within the framework of the RPCA meeting, some 200 participants, including ministers from Burkina Faso, Chad, Mali and Niger, gathered in Ouagadougou on 6 December to seal the Global Alliance for Resilience Initiative - Sahel and West Africa (AGIR). Burkinabe Prime Minister Beyon Luc Adolphe Tiao personally welcomed all stakeholders of the Alliance expressing his country’s support and conviction of the Alliance’s future success. In a Joint Statement outlining the principles, priorities and next steps of the Alliance, stakeholders pledged to achieve the objective “Zero Hunger” within the next 20 years. > Joint Statement of Ouagadougou | > Opening Statements | > Press Concerence | > Images
The goal of all West African agricultural and food security policies is to feed a fast-growing and increasingly urban population. Can they actually take on board these dynamics and their mid- to long-term implications? This was the key issue of the SWAC Forum which drew on research carried out in 2011 and 2012 within the "West African Futures: Settlement, Market and Food Security" (WAF) programme. West African agriculture ministers, regional organisations, researchers, agricultural producer associations, civil society and the private sector discussed policy options to draw from the WAF findings. In 2013, the SWAC Secretariat will continue to capitalise on the results of this two-year programme. The objective is to contribute to the reflection on policies and strategies, and deepen some of the analyses with interested partners. A Statistical Mapping and Analytical Regional Tool (SMART) will provide access to data and key findings (available end March 2013). > Summary Record | > Presentations | > Synthesis of the WAF study
Workshop on Demo-economic and spatial modelling
On the sidelines of the Forum, a training workshop on “Demo-economic and spatial modelling for food and agricultural policies”, was organised by the SWAC Secretariat, bringing together experts from AFRISTAT, CILSS, IFPRI and UEMOA. The event was hosted at the UEMOA headquarters on 4-5 December. Three major proposals were put forth: Proposal 1: Integrate settlement in food security policies; Proposal 2: Standardised regional database; and Proposal 3: Synergies between regional and international organisations. > Summary Record
On 8 December, SWAC Members met to discuss results of the 2011-2012 biennium and reviewed the proposed 2013-14 Programme of Work and Budget. The new biennium will largely build on the achievements of the 2011-2012 work period and continues to focus on the regional governance of food and nutritional security. In additon, a new platform for reflection will be opened on the Sahelo-Saharian area, focusing more particularly on transhumant pastoralism (see below). These two areas of work will be supported and complemented by cross-cutting activities which are focused on fostering the impact of the work of SWAC on policy-making and on providing services to Members.The Strategy and Policy Group meeting was hosted at the UEMOA Commission Headquarters in Ouagadougou. > Summary Record | > 2013-2014 Programme of Work
On the margin of the Sahel and West Africa Week, UEMOA Commission President Cheikhe Soumaré signed the new mandate of the Club. In his address, he welcomed the new Club’s work since January 2011, in particular its facilitator role around the AGIR Alliance, its advocacy work in support of the region’s food security agenda, also resulting in better synergy and co-ordination between ECOWAS, UEMOA and CILSS. As food security is one of the Union’s top priorities, the Union was particularly pleased with the strong food security focus of the first edition of the Sahel and West Africa Week . Building on the achievements of the past two years, the President of the Commission noted that “The UEMOA Commission did not hesitate a moment to reaffirm its adherence to the Club and to support the new mandate, having the advantage of sealing a sustainable collaboration”. “I hope that our exchanges with the Club and its Members will be as open as possible and that the Club will act as a spokesperson on behalf of our region in OECD member countries and beyond”, emphasized Mr. Soumaré.
The SWAC is welcoming Austria as new Club Member. The Austrian Development Co-operation’s work focuses primarily on the areas of poverty alleviation, conflict prevention, peace-building, environmental protection and natural resource management. West Africa is one of Austria’s priority regions. Besides regional initiatives, Austria signed a bilateral co-operation programme with Burkina Faso where it provides support for craftspeople, micro and small enterprises, vocational and technical education and training, and sustainable rural development, managed by its Ouagadougou–based country office. Regarding current SWAC work, Austria expressed its satisfaction with the newly launched Global Alliance for Resilience Initiative (AGIR) and the SWAC Secretariat’s facilitation work; it is hoping to take stock of good practices in resilience, facilitating the implementation of Austrian bilateral and regional strategies. Moreover, Austria has been actively promoting cross-border co-operation activities to deepen the West African regional integration process. It also actively supports ECOWAS and its Praia-based Regional Centre for Renewable Energies and Energy Efficiency (ECREEE) as well as ECOWAS conflict prevention and early warning initiatives through the support of regional NGOs and the ECOWAS Centres of Excellence such as the Kofi Annan International Peacekeeping Training Centre (KAIPTC). > learn more
Within its 2013-14 Programme of Work, the SWAC Secretariat is conducting a reflection process on the future of the Saharo-Sahelian areas. The future of the region is subject to serious worries. According to the most pessimistic scenarios, chaos may spread widely throughout the zone in the coming months and years, threatening regional stability with possible repercussions to the African continent and to global security as a whole. However, “The Saharo-Sahelian areas have an enormous development potential, which could also benefit the whole West Africa region; and the Saharo-Sahelian’s future depends largely on deeper economic and political co-operation with North Africa.” This hypothesis is the starting point of a reflection which will be explored and developed in detail over an 18-month period. It will result in an Atlas consisting of a description of the area, maps and thematic chapters. > call for contributions
Drawing on a regional study conducted by the Billital Maroobé Network (RBM), some 80 livestock experts from the region met to explore ways to improve access to animal feed for pastoral farmers within the framework of the ECOWAS Regional Food Security Stock Strategy. In their joint declaration, stakeholders officially announced the integration of an "animal feed" component in the region's food stock strategy. All stakeholders agreed on the need for an integrated vision regarding the the transformation of the livestock sector, in order to secure the livelihoods of agro-pastoral farmers. The four regional peasant and pastoral farmers' organisations (RBM, APEE, CORET and ROPPA) will be closely involved in the reflection on the animal feed component, offering them an excellent opportunity to strenghten co-ordination between their activities. > Joint Declaration of Niamey (French)
Some 150 regional and international actors gathered in search of new strategies to boost trade in the interest of food security in West Africa. The three-day conference was organised by the ECOWAS Agriculture Department with support from USAID's Agribusiness and Trade Promotion project and had the theme "Food Across Borders: Improving Food Security Through Regional Trade in West Africa." The SWAC Secretariat participated in a panel discussion on “How can we meet the region’s food security needs in the future?” highlighting some key findings from the West African Futures study on settlement, market and food security. > videos
Co-organised by the Institute for European Studies, the Egmont Institute and the Observatoire de l'Afrique, the conference provided an opportunity for some 60 policy makers, practioners and researches to assess the European response to the Sahel crisis and to encourage interactions between European and African perspectives. The three panel discussions focused on 1) the main challenges in the Sahel; 2) local and regional dynamics and; 3) how to move from military intervention to security assistance. Participants highlighted the multidimensional nature of the conflict and the importance of taking into account its regional dimension. SWAC President François de Donnea and the SWAC Secretariat participated in the debate, highlighting resilience building initiatives, such as the Global Alliance for Resilience Initiative (AGIR), as one approach to foster sustainable development and conflict prevention in the region. > agenda
Conflict over Ressources and Terrorism: Two Facets of Insecurity
March 2013 - forthcoming soon
This study first analyses an old and recurring form of instability in the region: conflict over resources. A series of case studies will examine the causes of these conflicts with reference to the associated regional challenges and response tools. Secondly, the study addresses terrorism, a relatively new dimension of insecurity. It outlines the development of AQMI and Boko Haram and then focuses on a comparative analysis of legal mechanisms to fight against terrorism. The argument holds that the congruence of these insecurities and the current violent crises present an unprecedented risk of destabilisation for West Africa and the international community.
This summary record presents key messages of the Forum's thematic presentations while highlighting the main issues of debate. Three major proposals were put forth: Proposal 1: Integrate settlement in food security policies; Proposal 2: Standardised regional database; and Proposal 3: Synergies between regional and international organisations. Participants also highlighted the need to organise regular meetings involving all actors working in the area of settlement and food security.
The summary conclusions of the 28th annual Food Crisis PRevention Network (RPCA) meeting provide an overview of the current food and nutritional situation in the Sahel and West Africa. The document also presents key issues related to this year’s thematic focus which was placed on the topic of “water management and food security”. Lastly, it includes information and images from the official launching ceremony of the Global Alliance for Resilience Initiative –Sahel and West Africa (AGIR) as well as the list of participants.
8 March, AGIR Working Group Meeting, Lomé, Togo
8-10 April, Food Crisis Prevention Network Meeting (RPCA), OECD, Paris
13-16 May, Colloquium on pastoralism in West Africa, Ndjaména, Chad
10 June, SWAC Strategy and Policy Group meeting, OECD, Paris