PRESS RELEASE 027
Sahel Alliance undertakes to speed up access to basic services for vulnerable people and backs a State presence in unstable areas
16/02/2021

The Minister for Foreign Affairs, European Union and Cooperation, Arancha González Laya, chaired the 2nd General Assembly of the Sahel Alliance in N’Djamena, held under the Spanish Presidency. A declaration was adopted at the meeting with a commitment from the Sahel Alliance to step up efforts for faster access to basic services in the most vulnerable zones of the Sahel and support a return of the State. The Assembly was held on the side-lines of the 7th Summit of Heads and State of the G5 Sahel, with the aim of strengthening dialogue with the G5 to implement joint actions that improve the living conditions of the people of the Sahel.

During her Presidency of the Sahel Alliance, Minister González Laya has travelled to the five Sahel countries - Chad, Niger, Nigeria, Burkina Faso and Mauritania – where she witnessed the urgent need to speed up the Alliance’s action in vulnerable zones. In this regard, the Alliance is working through an integrated territorial approach based on a triple security/development/humanitarian nexus as a key element to structure the interventions of the different partners that guarantees coordination between all the diplomatic, security, humanitarian and development actions to respond to the far-reaching causes of the crisis at a local level. To this end, the priority intervention zones in each of the G5 countries have been mapped out through dialogue with national, regional and local authorities.

One of the greatest challenges for vulnerable zones is the fragile presence or total absence of the State, which facilitates the spread of terrorism. The return of the rule of law, of governability and of the recovery of the confidence of people in rural areas affected by the insurgency is fundamental to intervene in vulnerable zones to strengthen the nexus of peace, humanitarian development and the presence of local authorities.

Specific results
Over the last three years, and thanks to the partnership between the G5 Sahel countries and the Sahel Alliance, specific and tangible results have been obtained, particularly in terms of access to essential services: more than 550,000 people have gained access to electricity, 1.6 million people have benefitted from sanitation services and 5.5 million people now have access to drinking water. In terms of food security and health, the Alliance has helped 2.9 million people benefit from food assistance, 3.4 million children have been vaccinated and 660,000 women of a childbearing age have benefitted from family planning methods. In terms of training and professional integration, 515,000 crop and livestock farmers have received support, 420,000 young people have benefitted from vocational training, 2,400 judges, lawyers and clerks have been trained and 1,250 civil society organisations have received support. These results show a growing commitment and more effective forms of intervention by the members of the Alliance.

Since its launch in 2017, the number of projects financed has doubled to more than 900 and the financial commitments have risen to a total of 23 billion euros. The G5’s Priority Investments Programme (PIP) and the Emergency Development Programme (EDP) continue to be the framework of reference for the activities carried out by the Alliance, and efforts have been made to speed up the implementation of projects on the ground. However, in her speech the minister stressed that “the urgency of the situation calls for us to do more and to do it better” to continue improving the situation in the most vulnerable zones.

In the declaration adopted, the Sahel Alliance renewed its commitment to gender equality and the defence of women’s rights, and acknowledged the importance of enhancing food security and the fight against climate change for the sustainable development of agriculture and the well-being of the population. In addition, during the course of the debates, the Alliance expressed its intention to prioritise young people through projects related to education, youth employment and the involvement of the private sector. The Alliance also committed to launch a dialogue process with the G5 on sector reforms and public policies.

The minister also took part in the Summit of Heads and State of the G5 Sahel, where she claimed that Spain considers the Sahel States to be a strategic priority, with shared interests on security and stability. At a bilateral level, Spain has in fact implemented 106 projects in the Sahel with an investment of 107 million euros

Arancha González Laya also held several bilateral meetings with the President of the Transitional Government of Mali, Bah N’Daw, the Chairperson of the African Union Commission, Moussa Faki, the President of Mauritania, Mohamed Ould Ghazouani; with all of whom she addressed the post-COVID recovery, security in the Sahel and migration.

Lastly, in her role as “Gender champion” for the eradication of poliomyelitis, a project promoted by the WHO, the minister visited a local hospital centre - Notre Damme des appôtres – where she held a meeting with a female worker.

 

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