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Dossier: Our work on the Sahel

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Why does the Sahel matter for Africa-Europe relations?

Europeans have played a political and security role in the region more recently, in addition to colonisation, post-colonial relationships and development cooperation partnerships. This is more so since the beginning of popular protests in Northern Africa in 2011 and the intervention in Libya. France, in particular in French speaking countries and its former colonies, but other EU member states too.

Instability and humanitarian crises in the Sahel have become a regional, continental and international issue; a shared challenge for Africans from all over North-West Africa.

What does ECDPM do in the region?

ECDPM has engaged in the Sahel region for over 15 years. Our strengthening European external action programme in particular studies regional dynamics and the role of Europe in the region, as well as existing regional strategies for the Sahel written by African and international organisations.

The programme also analyses and supports regional diplomacy by brokering information and knowledge. Beyond that, it plays a facilitation role to support or take part in dialogue between, on the one hand, those who write and promote these regional strategies, that is to say the policy makers; and on the other those who actually implement concrete development work – the practitioners, those who work directly with people from Mali, Mauritania, Algeria, Niger, every day.


Key resources


Sahel-Photo-by-Thinkstock-150x150 Sahel strategies: Why coordination is imperative

Policy Brief, March 2014 – At the request of the Bamako Ministerial Coordination Platform for Sahel Strategies and Initiatives, ECDPM and ISS Dakar have undertaken a mapping and comparative analysis of Sahel strategies and initiatives of regional and international actors.

Read more Disponible en français


Photo-by-Nyhao-Flickr-150x150 Avant la lettre? The EU’s comprehensive approach (to crises) in the Sahel

Briefing Note, February 2014 – This note looks at how the EU’s comprehensive approach for responding to external conflicts and crises is applied in the Sahel.

Read more


Thinkstock-Eggs-Seeds-150x150 Planting seeds and breaking eggs: EU delegations dealing with peace and security – the Sahel case and beyond

Briefing Note, October 2014 – This note looks at how EU delegations deal with peace and security.

Read more


Sahel-150x150-Photo-by-Johannes-Zielcke-Flickr Petit répertoire des expertises sur le Sahel : Diplomatie, sécurité et développement

Septembre 2014 – Ce répertoire est destiné à tous ceux qui cherchent à identifier des experts capables d’étudier et d’expliquer les dynamiques sociales, politiques et économiques ciblées par les nombreuses stratégies internationales pour le Sahel-Sahara.

Lire en plus (disponible uniquement en français)


Carte-mali 150 The Mali crisis and Africa-Europe relations

Briefing Note, June 2013 – This note looks at the implications of the Malian crises for the relations between Africa and Europe.

Read more / Disponible en français


More resources and information


Do you have any questions or thoughts on our work in the Sahel region you would like to share? Please contact Damien Helly at [email protected].

More resources, including blogs, media references and events, can be found in the tabs below.


    Blogs and articles

    The EU Trust Fund for Africa: A new EU instrument to accelerate peace and prosperity?
    Anna Knoll and Alisa Herrero Cangas, ECDPM GREAT Insights magazine, February 2016
    EU Trust Funds have been recently set up to deliver more flexible, swift, comprehensive and effective joint EU support in response to emergencies, fragility and other thematic priorities. Yet, expectations need to be managed, with regards to what impact can be realistically achieved with a little extra cash.

    The development politics of the Sahel – The slow delivery of a promised integrated approach
    Damien Helly, ECDPM Talking Points blog, November 2016
    Finding solutions to the complex security and development challenges facing the Sahel region is not about the money or continuously multiplying the number of platforms that coordinate action. It is about political leadership and making informed decisions – and neutral brokers can play a role. For the next EU Global Strategy there are some lessons to learn.

    A Gentle Exchange or Policy Dialogue? Negotiating the Implementation of the Agenda or Change in the Sahel – Part 3
    Damien Helly, ECDPM Talking Points blog, October 2014
    How have past EU commitments in the Sahel actually been implemented?

    A Gentle Exchange or an Agenda for Change in the Sahel? The Implementation Challenges – Part 2
    Damien Helly, ECDPM Talking Points blog, October 2014
    How have past EU commitments in the Sahel actually been implemented?

    A Gentle Exchange or an Agenda for Change in the Sahel?
    Damien Helly and Greta Galeazzi, ECDPM Talking Points blog, October 2014
    How have past EU commitments in the Sahel actually been implemented?

    4 Messages on Governance and Water in Mali and Niger
    Damien Helly and Greta Galeazzi, ECDPM Talking Points blog, September 2014
    This video blog takes a reverse approach in looking at governance – on which most of the Sahel strategies focus.

    Making Sense of the Funding and Implementation of Sahel Strategies: Part TwoDisponible en français
    Damien Helly and Greta Galeazzi, ECDPM Talking Points blog, July 2014
    It seems in general that the money pledged to the Sahel is targeted towards crisis response.

    Making Sense of the Funding and Implementation of Sahel Strategies: Part OneDisponible en français
    Damien Helly, Essete Abebe Bekele and Greta Galeazzi, ECDPM Talking Points blog, July 2014
    Updates on the financing and implementation of existing strategies for the Sahel on the basis of open sources.

    Six Ways to Think and Act Regionally in the Sahel-SaharaDisponible en français
    Damien Helly and Greta Galeazzi, ECDPM Talking Points blog, June 2014
    What working regionally could mean in the Sahel-Sahara, following an analysis of what is really at stake behind current debates on regional coordination mechanisms.

    The Alphabet Soup of Coordination in the Sahel: In Search of Collective Leadership Disponible en français
    Damien Helly and Greta Galeazzi, ECDPM Talking Points blog, June 2014
    Coordination from donors and actors in the region can help address the Sahel’s cross-border challenges.

    Sahel Strategies Compared – Third Donors Conference on Mali | Disponible en français
    Damien Helly and Greta Galeazzi, ECDPM Talking Points blog, May 2014
    Coordinating various strategies in the Sahel will allow donors and partners to build their legitimacy in responding to complex security and development threats.

    The EU Strategy for Security and Development in the Sahel – An indicator for the future of EU External Action?
    Andrew Sherriff, ECDPM Talking Points blog, September 2011
    The promise of the European Union’s (EU) Lisbon Treaty was for a more integrated and coherent EU.

    Media

    Podcast: Why does Sahel matter for Africa-Europe relations? | Écouter en français
    Clem Silverman and Damien Helly, September 2013
    A new president in Mali but development, governance and security still a matter of concern for African and European policy makers.

    Sahel Watch: a living analysis of the conflict in Mali
    Damien Helly for The Broker Online, October 2015
    More international community actors now recognise that other perspectives need be taken into account to fully understand the dynamics of the Mali conflict. The Broker’s ‘living analysis’ aims to identify, integrate and analyse the different perspectives to advance insights into the constantly changing dynamics in Mali and the Sahel. They are able to do this with updated analysis from experts in combination with on-the-ground knowledge. Damien Helly contributed analysis to this project.

    Coordonner la coopération dans le Sahel
    Joshua Massarenti et Damien Helly, juillet 2015
    Interview de Damien Helly, chef-adjoint du programme « Renforcement de l’action extérieure européenne » auprès de l’ECDPM.

    Aide de l’UE et la société civile dans le Sahel
    Joshua Massarenti et Damien Helly, juillet 2015
    Interview avec Damien Helly, chef-adjoint du programme « Renforcement de l’action extérieure européenne » auprès de l’ECDPM.

    Situation au Sahel
    Joshua Massarenti et Damien Helly, juin 2015
    Interview avec Damien Helly, chef-adjoint du programme « Renforcement de l’action extérieure européenne » auprès de l’ECDPM.

    Events

    25 June 2014 – EUISS conference Re-mapping the Sahel: transnational challenges and international responses. Participants

    12 June 2014 – What Role for Applied Research and Think Tanks to a Crisis Exit in the Saharo-Sahelian Region

    6 February 2014 – EEAS Sahel High Level Meeting

    29 January 2014 – EUISS Sahel Task Force Seminar

    20 October 2011 – European Parliament, Foreign Affairs Committee (AFET) – Working Group on Conflict, Security and Development. An assessment of the strategy for security and development in the Sahel.