Within the framework of the Club's biannual cycle on “West African Futures”, the SWAC Secretariat provides independent and forward-looking analysis which aims to enrich the debate and better inform decision-makers about future challenges.

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WAF Study


The 2011-2012 West African Futures (WAF) programme focuses on the spatial, economic and social consequences of settlement and market dynamics on food security. It provides policy makers and key stakeholders with a description of food security challenges that need to be addressed in regional policy and strategy design. In particular, it highlights the importance of coherent and regionally harmonised statistics in improving West African agricultural and food strategies. The programme also demonstrates how the failure to account for unrecorded regional trade in agricultural products considerably biases analyses of food security. Key findings were discussed with West African policy makers at the SWAC Forum; training workshops were held at the UEMOA headquarters. Capitalising on this two-year work, a study has been published within the OECD West African studies series. Data can be visualised within the Statistical Mapping and Analytical Regional Tool (SMART) which allows you to map, follow and compare key settlement data for the 17 West African countries and country groups between 1950 and 2050.

The Secretariat commissioned an up-date of the AFRICAPOLIS I study “West African Urbanisation dynamics” of 2008 (funded by AFD). The new study provides urban population estimates for 2010 (2000 in initial study). The study identified and geolocalised 2965 agglomeration (versus 1582), of which 1366 in Nigeria. The work benefited notably from newly available population census data in 13 out of the 17 countries and the highly improved quality and coverage of satellite imagery. The data will be available on SMART early 2014.

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Data visualisation - SMART

smart database log

‌Statistical, Mapping and Regional Analysis Tool (SMART)

Drawing on data produced within the 2011-2012 WAF Programme, SMART allows you to map, follow and compare key settlement data for the 17 West African countries and country groups between 1950 and 2050. By linking this data with agricultural performance, it also provides examples on how settlement dynamics change the way we interpret past trends and assess future potential.



Presentation of the Programme


Expected Results

A Working Group composed of key stakeholders was at the centre of the entire process. It drew on existing work conducted by Members and other institutions, and provided inputs and guidance on work priorities. West African statisticians also participated in training workshops to learn more about alternative methods such as spatial modelling in order to fill the data gap. Some key findings and policy options from the WAF study were presented and discussed at the SWAC Forum.


Did you know?

  • Between 1950 and 2010, the total population of West Africa grew from 72 to 290 million inhabitants.
  • The demographic transition in West Africa is accompanied by a significant spatial redistribution of populations.
  • Over the past six decades, the urban population multiplied by 20, from 6 million to 118 million inhabitants, and the level of urbanisation grew from 8% to 41%.
  • During the same period, the rural population multiplied by 2.6, from 66 million to 172 million, and rural population densities increased.
  • Agricultural production between 1980 and 2010 saw an average annual growth of 3.7% compared to the world average of 2.21%. 
  • Imports, as a share of total food availability, are stable.
  • Higher yields account for 40% of the increase in production between 1980 and 2007.
  • The prevalence of undernourishment has declined by 44% since 1990, but 33 million West Africans still remain undernourished.

Evolution of Undernourishment