Ten-year Drylands Sahel Programme to pave the way for a more resilient and sustainable Sahel

Ten-year Drylands Sahel Programme to pave the way for a more resilient and sustainable Sahel

The Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs has awarded the €100 million Drylands Sahel Programme (DSP), which will be called PROgramme Agroalimentaire pour la Résilience Intégrée et le Développement Economique du Sahel (Pro-ARIDES), to an SNV-led Consortium. Pro-ARIDES aims to ‘contribute to increased resilience, food security and incomes of farmer and (agro)pastoralist households in the Sudano-Sahel zone of Burkina Faso, Mali and Niger through effective, decentralised institutions and organisations for improved service provision, natural resource and land management and local economic development’.

SNV will implement the €100M programme over a period of 10 years with its consortium partners CARE-Netherlands, Wageningen University & Research (WUR) and The Royal Tropical Institute (KIT), as well as its local partners, national and regional umbrella farmer and pastoralist organisations, local governments and research institutes in the three target countries.

Challenges in the region

The Sudano-Sahelian zone of Burkina Faso, Mali and Niger faces many challenges, which, if not mitigated, could have devastating consequences for its populations and beyond. Vulnerable to climate variability and change, this region experiences erratic rainfall, social and economic disparities, instability and conflicts, environmental degradation and displacement.

These factors lead to low levels of resilience and vulnerability to acute food insecurity and malnutrition, which are exacerbated by external shocks such as the COVID-19 pandemic.

Opportunities in the region

Yet, there are enough opportunities that can be harnessed to make this region thrive. With agriculture being the main source of livelihood, inclusive value chains can be a source of decent income and help to improve the nutrition situation. When equipped with appropriate skills, youth represent a workforce which can be the engine necessary to transform this sector. Women, also widely represented in agriculture, can, with the right support and empowerment, take on key roles in the development of value chains.

Creating decent jobs for these populations would contribute to reducing existing tensions, the attraction of violent extremist groups, improve stability in the region and increase the resilience of the populations to various external shocks.

‘Implementing the Pro-ARIDES programme, jointly with national public and private sector organisations over the next 10 years, gives us a unique opportunity to address the complex issues the Sahelian countries are currently confronted with. Focusing on resilience of food systems (including pastoralism), facilitating business, service and employment opportunities and sustainable management of land, water and other natural resources through peaceful and collective arrangements on resource use can only be realised through strengthening institutions and re-establishing social contracts. This will require a long-term engagement, exactly what this programme can offer,’ said André de Jager, SNV Managing Director for Agriculture and Energy.

Ambitious yet realistic

The programme will be implemented in two 5-year phases to achieve its ambitious but realistic objectives. The activities will primarily benefit family farms (small, medium and large), as well as pastoral and agro-pastoral households, with a particular emphasis on youth, women and inclusion.

‘The pathways of change and key themes of Pro-ARIDES are and remain the real development challenges faced by the Mopti region and a major concern of the Government of Mali, as well as its technical and financial partners. The Government of Mali greatly appreciates the support provided by SNV and its partners in the context of (Pro-ARIDES and) regional and local development in Mopti,’ said Ousmane DIALLO, Economic and Financial Affairs Advisor to the Governor of the Mopti region, Mali.

By initiating systemic (and transformational) changes early in the programme, Pro-ARIDES will promote its sustainability so that it can be phased out at the end of Phase II, with a well-defined exit strategy. The SNV-CARE-WUR-KIT Consortium, will be the main guarantor of the professional, participatory and adaptive management of the programme, and will use its broad experiences to make Pro-ARIDES a model programme.

The programme will start in January 2021 with the Consortium’s local implementing partners and key stakeholders in the three countries.

For more information, contact: Jean de Matha Ouedraogo, Pro-ARIDES Programme Manager by email.