Sahel Alliance: Local solutions, governance and decentralisation

At the initiative of Germany, UNDP and the Liptako-Gourma Authority, members of the Sahel Alliance gathered on 20-22 November 2019 in Niamey, Niger for a regional workshop on the theme, “Governance and decentralisation: Vectors of peace and stability in the Sahel.” Some 30 participants coming from various administrative levels (local, regional, national) from Sahelian countries as well as international development partners discussed current decentralisation trends, problems and perspectives. Local government representatives from the three countries of the Liptako-Gourma region (Burkina Faso, Mali and Niger) issued a communiqué in which they urged members and partners of the Sahel Alliance to stronger involve them in all project stages – from identification, formulation and implementation to monitoring and evaluation of results – within the Alliance’s priority investment programme.
The workshop aimed at identifying new opportunities for collective action to strengthen decentralisation and local governance with the goals of eradicating poverty, preventing conflict and strengthening social cohesion, particularly in fragile border areas. Discussions emphasized the need to develop integrated development projects, in which local populations are heavily involved at all stages, rather than simply supplying development assistance from the outside without any ways to transfer knowledge or resources to local authorities. Drawing on a series of practical activities, participants shared experiences and best practices on how to best capitalise on local solutions and support local authorities in delivering basic social services for all. “Our vision is that the people of the Sahel should become their own development actors. Local authorities are best placed as they represent the government’s closest administrative level that is most accepted by citizens,” explained Ronald Meyer, head of the Sahel and West Africa division of the German Ministry for co-operation and development (BMZ). During the session on cross-border initiatives in the Liptako-Gourma area, participants examined examples of solutions adopted by local communities.
Throughout the workshop, participants used the innovative “Labs” approach, which is based on four steps: 1) sense-making: analysis of current investments ; 2) collective intelligence: integration of a large number of information sources; 3) mapping of local solutions likely to accelerate development by promoting bottom-up innovation; 4) development and testing of a portfolio of solutions to check what works and what doesn’t.
The SWAC Secretariat participated in the event and put at the disposal of participants its analyses on cross-border co-operation and policy networks, on climate finance options available to border cities, on the role played by border towns in the process of regional integration, and its work on borders, security and development in West Africa.