The United Nations is revamping its action plan to address the root causes of the complex crisis in Africa's Sahel region, in particular outlining a development vision for the region through a prospective socio-economic study by its agencies led by the Economic Commission for Africa (ECA).
The study, which focuses on 10 countries and has the backing of UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres who told a conference in February that it was possible to achieve peace, stability and prosperity in the Sahel, began in April this year.
The initiative is being carried out as complex national and cross-border security threats in the region escalate and governance crises worsen as well as structural climatic stress.
All these have a serious impact on human security and sustainable development in the Sahel.
The study aims to identify the fundamentals and set conditions needed for the region's development.
The Sahel, though plagued by a host of problems, is endowed with abundant natural resources like oil, gold and uranium, which if managed equitably and in a sustainable manner, can transform the lives of the millions of people in the region. At least 24 million people are in need of humanitarian assistance in the Sahel this year hence the ambitious UN initiative.
The study, which will be carried out through a participatory and inclusive approach, will provide relevant analysis and strategic choices to Sahel governments, key regional stakeholders and the United Nations system, in a bid to speed-up socio-economic development, and facilitate the achievement of national, regional and international development programs.
This prospective study, which also falls within the framework of reshaping the United Nations Integrated Strategy for the Sahel (UNISS),the African Union's 2063 Agenda and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), will enable the ten concerned countries (Burkina Faso, Chad, Cameroon, the Gambia, Guinea, Mali, Mauritania, Nigeria, Niger, and Senegal) to come up with a sustainable response to the region's challenges, particularly those relating to governance, security, and sustainable development.
Experts have since completed drafting the Sahel retrospective and strategic diagnostic report; a survey on the aspirations of the populations of the Sahel; and the structural analysis of the region's system.
The next steps focus on defining and quantifying scenarios, as well as defining the region's vision and strategic orientations, leading to a comprehensive prospective study of the Sahel vision by November 2018.