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Land, climate, energy, agriculture and development in the Sahel
National studies on land, climate, energy, agriculture and development in the 11 Sahel countries and a regional synthesis report on rural development, livelihoods and job creation in the Sahel region were published by the Agrhymet Regional Centre of the Permanent Interstate Committee for Drought Control in the Sahel (CILSS) in Niger and the Center for Development Research at the University of Bonn (ZEF) in Germany in January 2021.
The studies provide knowledge and critical insights on the nexus of land degradation, climate change and energy in the Sahel. Moreover, they identify policy entry points and investment opportunities that will help advance economic growth, food security and job creation in the region.
Socio-economic solutions foster sustainable rural development
The major findings show that socio-economic solutions such as improving access to markets, strengthening social safety nets, increasing investments in transport and energy infrastructures, promoting land tenure security, and expanding off-farm employment opportunities can significantly contribute to sustainable rural development in the Sahel, particularly by aiding climate-change resilience and sustainable land management.
Among the key technological innovations identified by the researchers that could boost such a development are: Expanding irrigation practices and adopting water-use-efficient irrigation techniques, increasing crop diversification and agricultural mechanisation, as well as investing in restoring and rehabilitating degraded lands through reforestation, afforestation and agroforestry practices.
Key lessons learnt from ongoing national policy initiatives for sustainable development emphasise the importance of actively involving stakeholders in consultation processes for policy formulation, and of establishing effective mechanisms for policy monitoring and assessment. By taking these factors into account, sustainable development policies and programmes can be implemented successfully in the Sahel region.
Five objectives towards a prosperous and peaceful Sahel
The researchers conclude that to attain the overall goal of a prosperous, food-and-nutrition secure and peaceful Sahel, policy and action-oriented research is needed on the following specific objectives:
- Identifying and harnessing the synergies across the land-water-energy-food security nexus in order to promote agricultural growth, rural development and job creation, particularly for youth and women;
- Accelerating climate-change adaptation and building resilience against extreme weather events, particularly droughts; Developing mechanisms for the use of climate-change mitigation measures to generate revenues through tapping into international carbon trading;
- Examining how conflict risks are affected and exacerbated by human and environmental stressors (and vice-versa) and understanding the strengths and weaknesses of the current, including indigenous, conflict resolution mechanisms;
- Exploring the impacts investments in soft and hard infrastructures have on economic growth and employment generation;
- Improving policy formulation, monitoring and implementation.