Since 2005, the Sahel region has been suffering from unprecedented repeated humanitarian crises, leaving the vast majority of the population exposed to multidimensional adversities. A number of pressing challenges, including a nutrition crisis, life-threatening poverty, climate change effects, escalating violence and insecurities are affecting extremely vulnerable families and causing irregular migration and displacement. It is estimated that nearly 6 million people in the affected regions (Mauritania, Mali, Niger, Burkina Faso, Chad and Senegal) need urgent assistance.
Violent Extremism – Armed Groups – Ethnic Clashes
Violent extremism regional threat poses a solemn security challenge to the region and especially to the Lake Basin region, displacing people and forcing hundreds of thousands of civilians to flee their home. Adding to the Lake Basin crisis, the ethnic clashes and armed conflicts in the northern part of Mali are causing a high rate of Internally Displaced People (IDP’s) and refugees in Mauritania. According to United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), “the number of internally displaced persons (IDPs) across the region has increased five-fold in one year. Armed attacks, are directly targeting schools and forcing health centers to close, jeopardizing the future of thousands of children and depriving violence-affected communities of critical services.” Suicide bombers have killed thousands of civilians in indiscriminate attacks especially in Nigeria. These violent conflicts have pushed the communities to the verge of starvation. Armed groups conduct transnational organized crime, such as human trafficking and migrant smuggling. Initiatives to address these threats include the FC-G5S and the Multinational Joint Task Force, established by Lake Chad Basin countries to fight armed groups.
Climate Shocks & Food Insecurities:
The humanitarian situation in the Sahel has been aggravated by erratic rainfall in 2017, contributing to significant damage to properties, insufficient harvest, threatening livelihoods and increasing local conflict between pastoralists and farmers over land and water. According to the World Food Program (WFP), in southern Mauritania, people are migrating to find food, water and work in neighboring Mali or Senegal. The situation is especially critical in Mali, where 34.0% of infant deaths are directly related to poor nutrition. According to the Food and Agriculture organizations of the United Nations (FAO), it is projected that 9.7 million people will be severely food insecure across the Sahel region and 2 million children are at risk of acute malnutrition in the Lake Chad Basin, Burkina Faso, Mali and Western Niger.
While RET has been successfully assisting Sudanese refugees residing in Eastern Chad (Darfur refugee camp) since 2005 & Central African refugees residing in Southern Chad since 2013, RET is planning to expand its operations to the Sahel region providing a multi-sectoral response to bridge the (1) Deteriorating food security and nutrition gap (2) Escalating violence and communal conflicts gap (3) Climate shocks, through the provision of livelihoods opportunities to improve vulnerable Youth’s self-reliance using sustainable approaches.
RET is currently supporting a youth peace initiative through sports-football in Mali in 2019. The proposed programs will provide protection and humanitarian assistance in addition to job opportunities, restore livelihoods, and build the resilience for some of the region’s most vulnerable communities, through the provision of long-term sustainable approaches that will impact positively the stability in the region and create social cohesive communities. “Education” of the refugees and host youth can help protect them and diminish the rate of recruitment into forced illegal armed groups and from becoming child brides.
RET’s mass focus in the Sahel region will be on the following sectors:
- Nutrition & Food Security
- Economic Growth and Development
- Peace, Stability & Transition
- Disaster Risk Reduction
- Education Formal and non-Formal
Violent Extremism and Communal Conflicts:
Intervention Sector: Peace, Stability & Transition
RET proposes to develop stabilization programs addressing violent extremism and recruitment in armed groups though disarmament, demobilization and re-Integration (DDR) programs for Youth and Child soldiers as well as social cohesion programs. RET has been implementing successful DDR programs for children and adolescents who have been engaged with armed groups in South and North Kivu, Democratic Republic of Congo since 2012. To date, RET has been able to successfully facilitate the demobilization and reintegration of 1000 ex-soldier adolescents in DRC with a 99% success rate. Over 85% of trained key stakeholders, including leaders of armed groups, have signed letters of commitment to refrain from, or to support the prevention of, the use of those below 18 in armed groups. RET also proposes implementing community stabilization programs, and resettling IDPs through relevant programs. Cross border interventions will also be needed and will be addressed by RET’s interventions.
Food security and Malnutrition:
Intervention Sectors: Nutrition & Food Security – Economic Growth and Development
RET will be addressing the Sahel food crisis through custom-tailored interventions, focusing on innovative sustainable solutions in remodeling agriculture and food systems to strengthen the resilience of trans boundary agro pastoral communities and build more resilient agri-food systems across the Sahel. RET will propose rural development programs to revitalize the socio-economic situation in the Sahel region, investing in small-scale farmers and pilot farm models to increase their livelihoods in a sustainable manner, whilst reducing reliance on foreign aid in the medium and long terms.
Intervention Sector: Disaster Risk reduction – Peace, Stability & transition
RET proposes to address the climate change shocks through providing preventive disaster risk reduction programs to mitigate vulnerability to climate-impacted farmers, cooperative models based on a holistic landscape approach to restore the symbiosis between farmers and nomadic pastoralists as well as income alternatives for former nomadic pastoralists. Climate shocks will eventually cause environmental degradation due to the haphazard utilization of natural resources leading to soil and vegetation degradation / erosion (aggravated through deforestation and overgrazing) and the proliferation of enemies crops (insects, rodents…) and will definitely increase food insecurity and cause climate migration and rural exodus leading to abandonment of terroir and the decline or even in the long-term disappearance of sustainable agro-pastoralist. Taking into consideration the environmental aspect of the crisis in the region, RET will focus on addressing the climate shocks through the provision of not only short-term humanitarian assistance, rather providing sustainable approaches to build the resilience of communities and help them ADAPT to climate change, by means providing durable interventions that will positively impact social cohesion in the region.