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Let’s focus on the opportunities in the Sahel to help address the challenges-UNDP Regional Director for Africa

8 September 2019 at 05:15 | 2501 views

The Assistant Secretary General and Director of the Regional Bureau for Africa of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), Ms. Ahunna Eziakonwa noted that the crisis in the Sahel region can be effectively tackled if focus is put on the region’s opportunities. According to her, investing in the Sahel youth and natural resources, will help address the triple threat of poverty, exclusion and climate change, to uproot insecurity. Speaking during the special conference on peace and stability in the Sahel Region at the 7th Tokyo International Conference on African Development (TICAD7), Ms. Eziakonwa noted that interventions for the region must be at large scale to have the needed impact.

“We cannot solve the problems of the Sahel by only looking at the challenges. We need to look at the opportunities and make investment in the region’s potential such as in the renewable energy sector, to transform the economy and tackle the problem of poverty and exclusion. To achieve this, we also have to engage with the Private Sector”, Ms. Eziakonwa stated.

The Sahel region faces a multi-dimensional crisis of insecurity, heightened by terrorism and violent extremism, humanitarian crisis with thousands fleeing their homes and environmental challenges characterized by strong climatic variations and irregular rainfalls, which pose two of the biggest obstacles to food security and poverty reduction in the region. These inequalities undermine community life and result in repeated tensions and violence.

Representatives of the G5 Sahel countries of Burkina Faso, Chad, Mali, Mauritania, and Niger, made a passionate appeal to the donor community to honor the pledges made in Brussels in January, saying it would fast track peace initiatives.
“We need strong coalitions and effective partnerships. We expect stronger commitments in order to fight terrorism so that stability in Africa is not lost”, said Alpha Bari, a representative from Niger.

Japan Foreign Minister, Mr. KONO Taro noted that Japan is committed to supporting the Sahel Countries to achieve peace and stability and will focus on institutional strengthening as a central element in nation building.

“Human resource development for judicial administration and legislative institutions is very crucial, so we will be training over 1000 people from the G5 Sahel countries over a 3-year period as well as provide vocational training and educational opportunities for the youth”, he said.

In terms of human resources development, UNDP is already partnering with the Tony Elumelu Foundation (TEF), Africa’s leading philanthropy to train, mentor and financially support 100,000 youth in Africa in the next 10 years towards the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The programme is starting this year with 2000 youth from the Sahel.

“Sahel has the face of youth, but we should also invest in women’s businesses since they allocate 90% of their income into social sectors”, added Ms. Eziakonwa of UNDP.

TICAD7 was held in Yokohama, Japan, between 28 to 30 August 2019. It was organized by the Government of Japan in collaboration with UNDP, the African Union Commission (AUC), the World Bank, and the United Nations, under the theme: “Advancing Africa’s development through people, technology and innovation.”