Does the Sahel need saving or should the Sahel save itself?May 28, 2021 3299 views 11 comments 3 minutes reading time
The Sahel region is characterized by conflict, drought and poverty. As the displacement of people in the region surpasses four million and the death toll continues to rise, many wonder what it will take to bring long-lasting peace and security.
The Sahel region has seen its fair share of international intervention. The French military has been trying to bring peace to the Sahel since 2013, while some African nations and the USA have also contributed to peacekeeping efforts by sending their troops to the region. However, this has not improved the situation as local residents find living under military rule repressive, and thus labelling these efforts as “dust projects” signified by 4×4 vehicles driving hurriedly to projects that lack substantive local community input.
“Do not look where you fell, but where you slipped” is an African proverb advising us to identify the cause of failure rather than treating the symptoms
Questions are beginning to arise as to whether foreign intervention is helping or hindering progress in the Sahel. Some believe that the solutions to the perennial problems the Sahel face may lay within the region itself. It has given birth to a rich culture filled with traditions that, if given a chance, may go a long way in promoting peace and dialogue in the region. Maybe it’s time to let go of imported institutional frameworks and harness the creativity of local communities.
What do our readers think?
One of our readers, Sophy, stated that the international solution can have a more decisive effect due to the prevalence of corruption, blackmail and political favours in the region. It is important to remember, however, that an external solution will always be seen as unsolicited help by local populations, and a certain interested political class could frame the issue as neo-colonialism, thereby resulting in a failure to address the problem. The internal solution would potentially be the best to resolve the issue in the long run, but local corruption and regional entities with a vested interest in keeping the crisis going may be the biggest obstacle to this option.
To get a response, we put the comment to Vianney Bisimwa, the Regional Director for the Center for Civilians In Conflict- Sahel program.
For another perspective, we put the same comment to Dr Andrew E. Yaw Tchie. A senior fellow at the Norwegian Institute of International Affairs.
We had a comment from our reader NF stating that international intervention, may appear good but only brings about more conflict.
Would Mamadou Bodian, a project coordinator at the West Africa Research Center (WARC) in Dakar, agree with NF?
On 12 May 2021, Our sister organisation, Friends of Europe, held an event -Disentangling the peace and security landscape: Europe and the Sahel. During the event, the organisation launched the Sahel study. The study (CROSSING THE WILDERNESS -EUROPE AND THE SAHEL) was compiled in partnership with the Portuguese Presidency, the Africa Europe Foundation, Centre for Democracy and Development (CDD) and EUCOM. The report brought together citizens, civil society, and policymakers to discuss the conflict in the Sahel region.
Does the Sahel need saving or can it save itself? Is the foreign intervention fueling problems rather than bringing peace to the region? Let us know your thoughts and comments in the form below and we’ll take them to policymakers and experts for their reactions!
Image by Oxfam International via Flickr
Image by Willemstom via Flickr