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Desertification Profile Development for the Francophone Sahel

The Global Mechanism (GM)

- Desertification Profile Development for the Francophone Sahel

- In the West Africa sub-region, at the southern edge of the Sahara, are the seven countries of the Sahel : Burkina Faso, Cape Verde, Chad, Mali, Mauritania, Niger and Senegal. These countries cover some 4 020 000 Km2 and are home to around 50 500 000 people.

- The main geographic and natural features of this sub-region are a dry tropical climate with significant variations that impact all crops, poor, fragile soils, insufficient water resources and high dependence on rainfall. Consequently, the cost of reversing desertification and rehabilitating land in the sub-region is very high.

- Agriculture remains nonetheless the mainstay of economic growth and poverty reduction, accounting for at least 35% of any one country’s Gross National Product (GNP), 40% of its exports and 70% of its employment. Moreover, fluctuations in Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of most of the countries is closely linked to that of agricultural GDP. Indeed, research has shown that in Africa, a 10% increase in agricultural production results in a 6-9% reduction in poverty.

- Given this trend and the specific characteristics of the Sahel, it is clear that poverty alleviation can only be achieved with substantial investment in agriculture and Natural Resource Management (NRM). Without such investment, poverty reduction will remain minimal and urban drift will accelerate - contributing to increased migration within West Africa and from the Sahel to Europe.

- Since the late 1980s, many bilateral and multilateral donor agencies, including Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Italy, Norway, The Netherlands, Sweden, The African Development Bank, IFAD, USAID and the World Bank, have invested substantially in land rehabilitation and improved management of natural resources in the Sahel.

- Importantly, the preliminary results of recent field studies in Burkina Faso and Niger have established that these investments have contributed to reversing desertification process and this trend may be more significant and diversified than generally assumed.

- However, more recently and for no obvious compelling reason, donors have increasingly abandoned investment in agriculture and natural resource management in favour of health and education, through the newly adopted Poverty Reduction Strategies and direct budget support.

- Furthermore, partnerships for sustainable development in the context of NRM seem to be missing -notwithstanding their importance in making progress towards the Millennium Development Goals (MGDs) which indeed provide the international community with an overarching framework for concerted action, targets to be reached within a given time span, and benchmarks against which to measure progress.

- For more information, please contact :
Mr Michel Kouda, Programme Coordinator, West and Central Africa
Tel. +39 06 5459 2118

- Lien vers le site : Global Mechanism

Page publiée le 15 mai 2007, mise à jour le 26 octobre 2008