Invest more in Africa’s Sahel, or risk decades of armed conflict and displacement |

Moving from reaction to action: anticipating vulnerability hotspots in the Sahelasserts that, if left unchecked, the climate emergency will further jeopardize Sahelian communities, as devastating floods, droughts and heat waves decimate access to water, food and livelihoods livelihoods, and amplify the risk of conflict.

This will ultimately force more people to flee their homes.

“In the Sahel, the climate crisis combines with growing instability and low levels of development investment to create a disempowering mix that places heavy demands on Sahelian communities, with the additional risk of jeopardizing the achievement of Sustainable Development Goalssaid the UN Special Coordinator for Development in the Sahel, Abdoulaye Mar Dieye.

The solutions are there

“There are solutions that focus on the agency of people and large-scale investments, but they require strong commitment and dedication from everyone, and the right data and analytics to know what’s coming in order to to execute proactive and impactful policy responses.”

Communities in the Sahel depend on agriculture and pastoralism, which are highly vulnerable to the impacts of climate change.

Food insecurity is already increasing across the region, reaching emergency levels in some areas. In the long term, maize, millet and sorghum yields are expected to decline due to climatic shocks, weakening the resilience of local populations.

Andrew Harper, Special Advisor for Climate Action at the UN Refugee Agency UNHCRstates that “rising temperatures and extreme weather conditions in the Sahel are aggravating armed conflict, which is already destroying livelihoods, disrupting food security and driving displacement.”

Collective effort

He said only a massive increase in collective climate mitigation and adaptation would help the region change course.

Even with ambitious climate change mitigation policies, temperatures in the Sahel are expected to rise by 2.5°C by 2080. If urgent action is further delayed, they could rise by 4.3°C.

Despite the negative trends, the Sahel is endowed with abundant natural resources.

Huge potential

The region sits on one of the largest aquifers in Africa and has immense renewable energy potential, including abundant solar power capacity and a vibrant young population – around 64% of Sahelians are under 25 years old.

If bold action on climate change mitigation and adaptation is imminent to support Sahelian countries and communities, and if collaboration between the humanitarian, development and peacebuilding pillars is prioritized, there is vast potential to change the trajectory of the region, the report points out.