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European Commission

Press release

Brussels, 4 November 2013

EU reinforces its support for the Sahel in the years to come

Significant new EU funding for the Sahel region for the period 2014 and 2020 is expected to be unveiled today by EU Development Commissioner, Andris Piebalgs, during a joint visit to the Sahel region with UN Secretary General, Ban Ki Moon, World Bank President, Jim Yong Kim, Chairperson of the African Union Commission, Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, and African Development Bank President, Donald Kaberuka.

The new pledge shows the commitment of the EU in putting in place a comprehensive approach in the Sahel region, involving the areas of development cooperation, humanitarian aid and support to peace and security, as illustrated by the EU strategy for security and development of the Sahel and the subsequent appointment of an EU special representative for the Sahel, Michel Reveyrand de Menthon, who accompanies Commissioner Piebalgs during the visit.

This support of some €5 billion to Burkina Faso, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Senegal and Chad (subject to the approval by the European Parliament and the European Council) will aim to help those countries tackle the specific and complex challenges of the Sahel region: security and stability, development and resilience. Governance, rule of law and security, delivery of social services, agriculture and food security, as well as regional trade and integration will be at the heart of the development programmes over 2014-2020. The main sectors have been jointly identified with benefitting countries and are in line with the Agenda for Change (the Commission’s blueprint to focus its aid on those countries and sectors most in need).

Commissioner Piebalgs said: "The Sahel is a priority for the EU where it mobilizes all its instruments to address a complex situation. We are determined to continue and increase our support to both the States and people of the Sahel. Our approach is built on the principle that security is a pre-requisite for growth – there can be no development without it."

The joint High Level visit – the first ever to include five leaders from amongst the multilateral institutions and the organisations most active in the field of security and development in the Sahel – begins today in Mali, before continuing to Niger, Burkina Faso and Chad, and will include meetings with Presidents, ministers, members of National Assemblies, leaders of civil society groups and private sector representatives in the region.   “I am delighted with the presence of so many important partners – it really shows the level of commitment which we all have to working together and coordinate our efforts", added the Commissioner.

Humanitarian assistance will also be provided according to needs. The EU committed €500 million of humanitarian funding for the Sahel from 2008 to 2013. In 2013, 5.5 million food-insecure people will receive assistance.

This visit will also be a new boost to the international partnership for resilience in the Sahel region (Alliance Globale pour l'Initiative Resilience - AGIR), launched with the aim of helping partner countries tackle the root causes and the consequences of chronic food insecurity.  


The €5 billion announced today include €3.9 billion for bilateral aid for the Sahel countries (Burkina Faso, Chad, Mali, Mauritania, Niger and Senegal) through the 11th European Development Fund (EDF) 2014-2020, and other financial instruments, notably €1.15 billion of regional programmes.

A Strategy for Security and Development

The Sahel is one of the poorest regions of the world and it is particularly vulnerable to most of the plagues that hamper State authority and the capacity of States to effectively deliver basic services, promote broad-based political participation and strengthen the rule of law.

Since March 2011, the EU has been implementing an integrated Strategy for Security and Development in the region. It focuses on four lines of action: (1) development, good governance and internal conflict resolution; (2) political and diplomatic; (3) security and the rule of law; (4) countering violent extremism.

This Strategy has proven a very valuable tool to shape an EU common position and common approach to this crisis and to mobilise considerable additional European efforts in the field of development and security, as well as to galvanise efforts and internal coordination to that effect. As an example, three important Common Security and Defence Policy (or CSDP) missions were launched in the wider region; successively EUCAP SAHEL Niger, the European Union Training Mission in Mali (EUTM) Mali and EU Border Management Assistance (EUBAM) to Libya as a border country of the Sahel.

The EU has further mobilized additional financial resources for development and security related projects worth €167 million. Today, this strategy continues to provide the right basis for EU action and it will be important to extend its scope to other Sahel countries going forward, such as those neighbouring Mali, Mauritania and Niger.  Yet, it must be interpreted and adapted in order to help EU partners in the wider Sahel-Sahara region to address key security and development challenges and to coordinate action and international support.

The EU has also made a substantial contribution to building infrastructure networks in the region with our partners and will help to significantly improve the governance and management of existing transport network. One important result will be to mobilize resources and leverage investments in the region through blending (mixing of grants and loans).

Addressing the root causes and strengthening resilience to crisis

The Sahel crisis results from poor rainfall, failed harvests, rising food prices and is aggravated by migrant workers returning from Libya without any income or job. Moreover, insecurity and terrorism in the region add to the difficulties, and affect the movements of the humanitarian workers.

In order to help countries of the Sahel region tackle the root causes and the consequences of chronic food insecurity, the European Commission launched an international partnership for resilience in the Sahel region (Alliance Globale pour l'Initiative Resilience - AGIR) in 2012, together with governments, regional organisations, UN agencies and other humanitarian and development bodies.

The UN, the World Bank, the African Development Bank, the African Union and the EU have all confirmed their commitments to the AGIR Regional Roadmap. The AGIR-Sahel initiative has set the ambitious target of mobilising €750 million over the next 3 years. The EU has already announced €1.5 billion in regional and national programmes over 2014 -2020 to develop and implement national resilience strategies in West Africa countries.

For more information

To learn more about the EU Strategy for Security and Development in the Sahel, click here

IP/12/1052: EU puts resilience at the heart of its work on fighting hunger and poverty

Website of the European Commissioner for Development, Andris Piebalgs:

Website of EuropeAid Development and Cooperation:

Contacts :

Alexandre Polack (+32 2 299 06 77)

Maria Sanchez Aponte (+32 2 298 10 35)

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