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The Sahel is implementing a plan to combat climate change

On 25 February 2019, the Heads of State of 17 African countries* adopted a climate investment plan for the Sahel region. Scheduled over a period of 12 years, it has been allocated funds amounting to €350 billion. A priority programme for the period 2020-2025, and decided at the Paris Agreement, identified six projects to limit greenhouse gas emissions and adapt to climate change.

A region exposed to climate change

The Sahel region is increasingly weakened by climate change. Recurrent droughts, changes in rainfall regimes, the advance of the desert, and the rarefaction of water and grazing land are already affecting ecosystems and the living conditions of human communities (more than 500 million people).

There are many examples of these impacts: the aggravation of coastal erosion with a loss of two metres a year in Senegal and Djibouti. Lake Chad is liable to vanish: following the great drought of the 1970s and 1980s and the fall in the quantity of water flowing in two major tributaries – the rivers Chari and Logone, its surface area has shrunken from 25,000 km2 in the 1960s to around 5,000 km2 today. However, its watershed which represents 8% of Africa’s surface area, accommodates 50 million people with a population of 130 million predicted in the near future, all rural and poor. The lack of water has had a severe impact on agricultural, grazing and fishing resources. The agriculture of this region is mainly rainfall dependent: only 4% or arable land is irrigated. These conditions have led to insecurity, with the development of the terrorist organisation, Boko Haram.

The region’s future requires joint reflection on the challenges of water and development: the utilisation of underground water for agriculture; securing access to water; preserving water resources; exploiting the basin’s water resources (energy, water, agriculture, transport, etc.). For example, the River Niger is still relatively undeveloped (only 25% of its hydroelectricity potential has been harnessed), although the energy production needs of this region, one of the least electrified in the world, are considerable.


A climate investment plan amounting to more than €350 billion

The signatory countries must contribute 10% of the funds earmarked for this plan. They are backed by the international funding institutions: the World Bank, the African Development Bank, the European Union and countries, like France, have undertaken to contribute €250 million.Financial and technical partners have been present in this region for many years. The aim is to act faster to take up the challenges presented by the climate and avoid a major crisis of security and migration, by promoting evermore cooperation between countries and aid for development.

*Cape Verde, Senegal, Gambia, Mauritania, Mali, Guinea, Ivory Coast, Burkina Faso, Benin, Niger, Nigeria, Cameroun, Chad, Sudan, Eritrea, Ethiopia and Djibouti.

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