Sustainable Development Goals from within and across all 11 countries of the Sahel
SOS SAHEL is the only organization focused on development within and across all 11 countries of the Sahel — Senegal, Mauritania, Mali, Burkina Faso, Niger, Cameroon, Chad, Sudan, South Sudan, Ethiopia and Djibouti.
Through our network of more than 1,000 local actors, we move the region closer to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals and African Union Agenda 2063 by focusing on the food security, livelihoods and climate challenges. Simultaneously, we create bridges between local actors and international markets — promoting regional products around the world to drive greater economic growth and security.
300 million people live in SOS SAHEL intervention zones, including 7 million in emergency situations.
By 2030 the number of people living in the drylands in Africa is expected to increase by 65-80%.
By 2050 Africa will have 2 billion inhabitants to feed.
60% of available land is uncultivated.
In Africa, 80% of farms are small farms.
In the Sahel region, agriculture is the main source of income for over 90% of the population.
Through 2030, SOS SAHEL’s strategic direction is set by the Green Initiative — through which we prioritize collaborations, especially with women and youth, to build sustainable food systems for greater security and well-being. Four pillars define this work.
Sustainable development only succeeds with a strong foundation, and so we bridge critical gaps in water access, sanitation, hygiene and agriculture in the region. This includes building infrastructure, extending education and service delivery networks, and introducing new equipment and management systems to lay the groundwork for stronger agricultural production.
Climate change and population growth in the Sahel lead to increased degraded land, out-migration and insecurity. Mitigation and restoration activities, like altering land use systems and regenerating forests, help us prevent further damage — or reverse it. As land becomes more productive, the more than 80% of Sahelian households dependent on agriculture can attain secure incomes to provide for their families.
Through service centers and community programs, we professionalize management of the entire food system. Training focuses on efficient, productive project oversight and maintenance, including building skills to anticipate and respond to problems along the value chain, as well as sustainable land management and harvesting techniques. This equips local actors to move beyond tradition alone to participate on the global stage.
As we secure a baseline of capacity and essential resource access, we also want to continuously learn and push the boundaries of sustainable change. Convening knowledge academies and hackathons, as well as bridging the gap between local and international stakeholders, helps to drive discovery, knowledge sharing and experimentation across community, national and global scales.
Prioritizing Local Voices
Agricultural knowledge in the Sahel is based on history and experience. There are opportunities to launch that knowledge into the 21st century with modern resources, but we want to preserve the best of the expertise established over generations.
SOS SAHEL programs are led by a network of more than 1,000 local actors who believe in the potential of the region, as well as the power of innovation through tradition. We reinterpret historically-built knowledge in light of the current context — including increasing climate change, threats of insecurity and extremism, and power structures that need to be dismantled to promote women’s equality, to name a few.
We welcome collaborations with stakeholders and experts from outside of the Sahel, but always ensuring local voices are present at the table.
VOICES FROM THE FIELD
Unlocking Potential through Partnership
Bringing the local together with the global, our collaboration with Nexira — one of the world’s business leaders in natural ingredients for food and nutrition — is a key example of SOS SAHEL’s successful partnerships. Acacia Gum (also called Gum Arabic) is of particular interest to Nexira, who is a leading provider of this ubiquitous product additive present in things like cosmetics, pharmaceuticals, food and drinks.
Together with Nexira, we launched the Acacia Project in Chad. Harvesting Acacia Gum is an essential activity in Chad, accounting for 40% of family farm incomes in the dry season.
This project touched on all of our activity areas, with a through line of empowering women, who make up the majority of Acacia Gum harvesters. We identified critical gaps in family farm tools to ensure gum quality, counteracted soil fertility problems by planting more than 2 million trees and expanded education around resource management to ensure product sustainability and longevity. Nexira also helped expand our network of innovators and collaborators, bringing in Danone and Firmenich to add greater technical expertise and support.
Together, we have dramatically altered the entire Acacia Gum value chain in Chad — regenerating more than 10,000 hectares of Acacia forest, expanding annual production from 1,500 to 2,600 tons and launching 128 producer groups and 9 unions with leading roles for women.