Spotlight: mapping security and governance interventions in the Sahel


The international community has intensified its involvement in the Sahel since the beginning of the crisis that broke out in Mali in 2012. These interventions are valuable, but projects are often carried out in silos with insufficient coordination between national governments and international organisations, let alone civil society.

In response, the Institute for Security Studies (ISS), together with the European Centre for Development Policy Management (ECDPM) have completed a sectoral mapping of security and governance initiatives in the Sahel. The mapping provides detailed information on projects including their donors, budgets and geographical scope.

‘Improving livelihoods in the Sahel in a sustainable way is complex and requires joint action. The database shows who is working on what, where and how. This vital information means we can work effectively towards the same goals,’ says Pierre Buyoya, High Representative of the African Union for Mali and the Sahel.

Improving livelihoods in the Sahel in a sustainable way is complex and requires joint action

The sectoral mapping was requested by the Technical Secretariat of the Ministerial Platform for the Coordination (MPC) of Sahel Strategies with funding from the United Nations Office for West Africa and the Sahel (UNOWAS). It collates information on more than 450 projects launched between January 2011 and April 2016.

The results were presented to the MPC in N'Djamena on 14 June 2017 at a meeting hosted by Chad, as the current chair of the MPC. The participants praised the quality of the work and encouraged all international actors active in the Sahel to use the information to guide policy and action.

‘Together, governments and international institutions can improve prospects in the Sahel. But collaboration is never easy,’ says Hiroute Guebré Selassié, Deputy Special Representative of the Secretary General of the United Nations for West Africa and the Sahel.

‘With the support of UNOWAS, the ISS and ECDPM have developed a valuable tool that is the first of its kind for the region. It will help make effective coordination possible.’

The technical support provided by ISS and ECDPM follows independent research conducted by the two organisations in 2014 that stressed the need for additional coordination in the Sahel.

‘The difficulties we faced in collecting information show that the challenge of coordination in the Sahel remains,’ says Lori-Anne Théroux-Bénoni, Director of the ISS Dakar Office. ‘This mapping is an important first step towards more effective planning and programming in the areas of security and governance the Sahel.’ 

At its June meeting in N’Djamena, the MPC recommended that the database be updated and expanded to include the resilience and development sector, and to document national initiatives.

‘The excellent work of the ISS, which has a track record of reliable research in the Sahel, shows that governments in the region must take the lead on joint strategies,’ says Angel Losada, Special Representative of the European Union for the Sahel.

The database and analysis of how to enhance coordination is available on the UNOWAS website.

For more information, contact:

Lori-Anne Théroux-Bénoni, ISS: +221 338603304,

Picture: Harandane Dicko/MINUSMA