Statement of the Deputy Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General – UN Office for West Africa and the Sahel (UNOWAS) at the Start of Week 2 Voices from the Sahel Conversations, 18, October 2021.

My fellow Sisters and Brothers of the Sahel,

I am very pleased and quite enthusiastic in moderating WEEK 2 of the “Voices from the Sahel – Conversations, Visions and Solutions” where Sahelian youth and women themselves are at the center stage of the conversations to find a sustainable way forward to solving the many challenges in the region. I am taking over my colleague Mar Dieye, who has moderated the first week of these conversations, and he set the bar quite high! In addition, the lively, thoughtful and innovative ideas that emerged from this first week discussions are planting the seeds for a renewed and
transformative partnership with the people of the Sahel.

I am Giovanie Biha, a child of Burundi, a country between Central and East Africa that is not part of the Sahel but that shares many of its features/realities at the political, socio-economic, and cultural levels, so I can relate! Most of my career at the United Nations in the field is the West Africa and Sahel region, which also gives me another reason for being quite invested in the ascent of the region and its youth towards a greater and brighter future. I am a Sahelian at heart! Read more: SahelDiscussions-Giovanie_Introduction_FINAL (002)-converted