The Sahel: Under pressure, facing converging challenges, compounding risks

Source: UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
Country: Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Chad, Gambia, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Nigeria, Senegal

Environmental shocks, insecurity, chronic hunger and malnutrition have a dangerously symbiotic relationship in the Sahel. A spike in armed conflict and violence worsens its chronic hardship and has led to rising displacement.

In the Sahel, extreme poverty, fast-growing populations, climate change, recurrent food and nutrition crises, armed conflicts and insecurity are building up to a perfect storm threatening the lives of communities already living on the brink of crisis.

The region is one of the world’s climate change hotspots. Increasingly unpredictable weather patterns, more frequent droughts and floods and land degradation threaten the livelihoods of a population in which the majority relies on agriculture for survival.

Environmental shocks, insecurity, chronic hunger and malnutrition have a dangerously symbiotic relationship in the Sahel. A spike in armed conflict and violence worsens the Sahel’s chronic hardship and has led to new peaks in displacement across the region. Lack of opportunities and unemployment, deteriorating security, economic and social inequality expose youths to risks of radicalization and recruitment. Many seek brighter prospects elsewhere, fueling the global migration crisis.

Faced with serious threats, governments risk channeling more resources to address security challenges at the expense of social development. Past gains and future development prospects are at stake. If these challenges remain unaddressed, the prospects for the region are dire, and the most vulnerable communities will suffer the most.

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