Fostering resilience and social cohesion in the Sahel

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October 6, 2020

Cross-border areas between Mali, Niger, and Burkina Faso face complex security problems and high economic and social vulnerabilities. This shared transhumance area, affected by climate change, runs out of resources, further exacerbating existing tensions within agro-pastoral communities. Populations, therefore, face increasing food and nutrition insecurity amid weakening governance and conflict management systems.

With funding from the European Union, we partner with Action Contre la Faim, Terre des Hommes, Acted, and four local organizations to respond to this call. Within this consortium, we improve the living conditions, resilience to food and nutritional insecurity and to conflicts, and the social cohesion of vulnerable populations in the most fragile regions along the three countries’ borders.

Our 48-month project “PROGRESS: PROgramme de REsilience et de cohésion Sociale au Sahel” (Program of Resilience and Social Cohesion in the Sahel) focuses on several issues that develop within two cross-cutting objectives:

1. Strengthening agricultural and pastoralist populations’ livelihoods by building resilience to food and nutrition insecurity sustainably and structurally.

The consortium is carrying out a multifactorial action so that the poorest households can meet their basic needs. This action aims to facilitate access to social protection systems, basic social services and credit and savings services,  and diversify agricultural and pastoral productive capacities. Our partners carry out, among other things, advocacy activities to include these households in national social protection plans and to facilitate their access to health services, land restoration initiatives, awareness-raising campaigns on income diversification, improved hygiene practices, and maternal care.

Our expertise in conflict sensitivity guides each step of the implementation process. We identify potential conflict drivers to provide the recommendations necessary to adapt our interventions to mitigate division risks and highlight peace opportunities.

2. Supporting local communities and institutions in conflict prevention and strengthening social cohesion.

This axis represents our main area of expertise and action. Our approach is twofold: to improve relations between authorities and populations and to bring communities closer together.

Drawing on our experience in strengthening local governance, we create spaces for dialogue between institutions and citizens and support them in the joint development of action plans to improve basic service quality (health, rural development, agropastoral sector). Through the use of scorecards, communities are equipped with concrete tools to evaluate these services and thus provide sound recommendations and ensure better accountability of the authorities.

We also put youth at the forefront of local conflict prevention efforts by training 540 youth in inclusive leadership, conflict transformation, and positive communication. To put these new skills into practice, we then help them implement initiatives to foster peaceful coexistence in their communities, such as sports, theater, and cultural festivals.

Finally, our local radio partners extend our peacebuilding efforts to the most remote areas. By broadcasting our magazines and radio spots, they provide communities with the information they need to combat rumors that hinder conflict resolution.

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