BAMAKO, Mali- In Africa’s Sahel region, where people are more likely to encounter starvation instead of supper, several leaders and organizations have given the region a new hope for a comeback. As of now, 11 million people are at risk of starvation, while five million children under five years old are susceptible to acute malnutrition. The underlying factors expanding the crisis range from political instability at the hands of corrupt government to severe droughts and failing harvests. In response to this crisis, the United Nations and other global groups and leaders have said they would be investing around $8 billion to the region in hopes of recovering its economy.
In the aftermath of a visit to the region, an international partnership called the Alliance Globale pour l’Initiative Resilience (AGIR) was created by the European Union (E.U.) to combat food shortages, acute malnutrition and other crisis in the Sahel region. With the participation and commitment of the United Nations, World Bank Group (WBG,) African Development Bank, and African Union, the AGIR-initiative aims to lend their continued support to the area for years to come.
As of November 4, the WBG will start a pledge of $1.5 billion to be allocated over the next two years to invest in regional projects and other country programs. The World Bank Group’s pledge will help build social safety nets to help families overcome natural weather disasters and become more resilient. Opportunities in rural areas will also increase as improved infrastructure and funding will help create hydropower and other alternative sources of clean energy. This plan will see the improvement of irrigation and agriculture, which could reach more than 80 million people living in the Sahel region.
The E.U. has also declared an investment of $6.75 billion to six of the countries over the following seven years. In addition, the E.U. has been instilling a strategic plan for Security and Development since March 2011, where they focus on a six main points;
2. Fair governance
3. Internal conflict resolution
4. Political and diplomatic policies
5. Security and the rule of law
6. Countering violent extremism
As a result of this strategy, already proven efficient, important missions have successfully been launched including the European Union Training Mission in Mali (EUTM) and the E.U. Border Management Assistance to Libya (EUBAM.) In 2013, an estimated 5.5 million people in need of food will receive assistance.
Security-General Ban Ki-Moon had this to say regarding the ongoing efforts in the region after arriving in Bamako, “[b]y working together and investing in governance, security resilience, and opportunity for women and young people, we can help the Sahel move from fragility to sustainability. Fighting fires in the Sahel remains crucial, but we also need to clear away problems that ignite conflict and instability.”
There are no quick ways to immediately alleviate all of the problems in the Sahel, but with foreign investments by UN led organizations to the region, the Sahel belt may have a fighting chance at seeing itself prosper.
– Jeffrey Scott Haley