Changing The Fate Of The Sahel - Archive

The social, economic, security and environmental challenges facing the Sahel would almost make one forget the immense opportunities offered by this region. Resources and wealth whose development has the power to change the fate of Sahelians.


At 18, Mamadou is about to embark on the long and tortuous journey to Europe. He is well aware of this, he will have to endure the hell of a crossing which may cost him his freedom and his life, but he is determined. Determined to escape a life of hard work that leaves neither his family nor him free from need. Determined not to be a victim of terrorism or an executioner who would spread death and desolation in the name of religion or ethnicity. Determined to have a chance to live with dignity, to escape fear and to help those close to them.


The daily life of Fatou, housewife and mother of four children, is punctuated by domestic work. Since being taken out of school to be given in marriage, she has led a life of no respite that gives her neither the satisfaction of living to her full potential nor the financial independence to care for her family. In a world where he is not given the freedom to make his voice heard or the opportunity to work, his hopes for a better life are slim. Will it be so for his daughters? Will the promising future that school can offer them vanish to give way to a gloomy tomorrow?

Just like Mamadou and Fatou, in the Sahel millions of young people and women wishing to improve their living conditions and those of their community are deprived of the opportunity to realize their full potential. Yet the Sahel is rich in potential which, if properly exploited, can help to establish stability and prosperity. These riches include solar energy, imposing quantities of natural resources, the possibility of giving new life to agriculture and a cultural and historical legacy to the Sahelian youth as well as to all humanity.

The populations of the Sahel will be both actors and beneficiaries of the positive spin-offs from the exploitation and optimal management of resources. Thus, the UN Support Plan for the Sahel recommends offering young people and women like Mamadou and Fatou, the opportunity to participate in the development of these resources so that their activity allows improve their well-being and that of their loved ones. With massive and diversified investments, better governance of this wealth and the involvement of populations, it is possible to eradicate poverty, reduce insecurity and allow the Sahel to regain its place in the concert of nations.


The Sahel is also a glorious past which gives it a special place in history. During the Middle Ages, this region saw the birth and prosperity of powerful, well-organized empires in which different ethnic groups coexisted in peace and abundance. Empires open to the world which provided, through trans-Saharan trade, the gold necessary for global growth. Worthy children of the Sahel in love with knowledge, anxious to preserve human dignity and endowed with a pronounced taste for discovery have built cities of knowledge like Timbuktu, abolished slavery through the Mandé Charter and braved the Atlantic to arriving in America long before Christopher Columbus.

These exploits and this rich history should serve as inspiration as initiatives and possibilities abound to change the destinies of 300 million people such as Fatou and Mamadou.