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Territorial Development and Access to Basic Services

Initially intended to promote democracy and citizen participation, decentralisation is now recognised as an effective way of providing local, high-quality basic services. However, local and regional authorities are also facing new challenges, particularly in terms of sustainable local economic development (natural resources, waste management, climate change), sometimes in contexts of fragility or insecurity that increase social needs.

In practice, decentralisation implementation greatly varies depending on the willingness of governments to reform and on political stability or instability factors in a given country. In financial terms, military expenditure, as well as the expenditure linked to the COVID-19 pandemic, has weighed heavily on the budget for local governance and decentralisation.

Adequate funding for local authorities to meet the needs of the population remains a major challenge in all countries. Some responsibilities have been transferred to local authorities in several sectors, but are insufficiently funded. Similarly, the inadequacy of local taxation is currently a real challenge for providing local authorities with sufficient own resources.

When governance is driven by Citizen needs, remarkable change can happen. Centralised political systems across the Sahel have slowed national economies, weakened basic services, and impeded accountability mechanisms. Decentralisation in many Sahelian countries aims at bringing governments closer to citizens, allowing communities for greater access to decision-making and making their voice heard in shaping their future. These reforms are critical as the complex causes of regional insecurity require a collective and inclusive response.

Alyson McFarland, Country Representative USAID/Burkina Faso

The Sahel is the region of the world with the worst health indicators. The WHO estimates that 10.6 million people are in need of emergency health services in the Sahel region. In recent years, malnutrition has worsened as a result of increased conflict, and the shutdown of health facilities in some regions has reduced communities’ access to healthcare. The chronic malnutrition rate is close to 40%. Maternal and infant mortality remain very high (856 deaths per 100,000 live births, one of the highest rates in the world).

The World Food Programme (WFP) and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) estimate that nearly 2,900,000 children aged between 6 and 59 months could be affected by global acute malnutrition in the Sahel. The tri-border area (Burkina Faso, Mali and Niger) is particularly affected, accounting for around 70% of areas affected by nutritional insecurity.

In terms of supporting health insurance coverage, several Sahel countries are implementing adaptive social protection programmes. These programmes can provide beneficiaries with access to 100% free general health insurance.

The members of the Alliance support the Sahel countries in improving health services. Among the results achieved between 2017 and 2022, the following can be highlighted:

In 2022 in the five countries, the rates of access to water and sanitation services show contrasting values. Nonetheless, the following trends can be identified:

  • The access rate to basic drinking water services is at least 50% in each country. However, 38 million people do not have basic access to water.
  • The access rates to at least one basic sanitation service vary between 12% and 55% depending on the country. Overall, 68 million people do not have access to basic sanitation.
  • Access to basic hygiene has deteriorated the most, with rates ranging from 9% (Burkina Faso) to 42% (Mauritania).

In terms of sanitation, the trajectory for the five countries indicates that current efforts would have to be multiplied by 4.6 on average to achieve an access rate to at least one basic sanitation service for all by 2030.

The members of the Alliance are supporting the Sahel countries to improve access to drinking water and sanitation. Among the results achieved between 2017 and 2022, the following can be highlighted:

Sustainable governance, management of renewable natural resources (constituting the basis of the region’s economy), and provision of basic services are powerful conflict prevention tools.

Alyson McFarland, Country Representative USAID/Burkina Faso

At the heart of this commitment to fragile areas, the Integrated Territorial Approach (ATI) aims to respond to the most urgent needs of populations in several sectors, while addressing the root causes of crises in areas at risk. It allows development initiatives to be better coordinated at local level, and to pool the resources and approaches of Sahel Alliance members working in these areas. In 2020, ten priority areas were identified by the members, in collaboration with the authorities in each country.

The ATI helped support the implementation of the regional growth strategy for the Hodh Ech Charqui priority area in Mauritania and strengthen dialogue with local authorities in the Kanem and Barh-el-Ghazel priority areas in Chad.

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