The UNODC Sahel Programme delivers across the region

  Activities of UNODC in the Sahel region are supported by contributions from Austria, Canada, Denmark, the European Union, France, Germany, Japan, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway, Spain and the United States. 

The Sahel is one of the poorest regions of the world. It faces simultaneously the challenges of extreme poverty, the effects of climate change, frequent food crises, rapid population growth, fragile governance, corruption, unresolved internal tensions, illicit trafficking and terrorist-linked security threats. 

To address these issues, UNODC launched its Contribution to the United Nations Integrated Strategy for the Sahel (the UNODC Sahel Programme) in late 2013, and began its implementation in January 2014 with a particular focus on terrorism prevention, anti-corruption, border management and improving judicial systems and law enforcement agencies.   

With 186 activities implemented so far, UNODC has reached more than 5,700 direct beneficiaries and generated concrete results across the region, detailed in the recently published Sahel Programme Progress Report - January 2016.

These include, among others:

  • A new law against the smuggling of migrants passed by the Parliament of Niger in May 2015 and two anti-corruption laws adopted in Burkina Faso (March and November 2015). UNODC provided extensive legal drafting expertise to lawmakers and relevant actors in each country prior to the adoption of these laws.
  • Malian authorities seized more drugs and initiated more court cases thanks to UNODC-DPKO specialized training activities. 41 cases related to drug trafficking offenses were initiated from April 2015 to November 2015, when training beneficiaries were contacted to evaluate the long-term impacts of the activities.
  • Niger saw its first-ever conviction for money laundering in May 2015, when the Niamey Court confiscated the equivalent of USD 670,000, setting a precedent for countries in the region.
  • UNODC has facilitated the exchange of information between authorities in Burkina Faso, Mali, Niger and Senegal through its judicial cooperation platforms. 14 extradition cases and 86 requests for assistance between Sahel countries were facilitated since 2014.
  • More than 1,100 firearms were marked in Burkina Faso and Mali during 2015, following the provision by UNODC of equipment, training and related registration software to mark state-owned firearms.
  • UNODC assisted Chad in setting up an anti-terrorist coordination cell regrouping law enforcement agencies and magistrates.
  • The Heads of State of the G5 Sahel adopted a Security Cooperation Platform in November 2015, thanks to the legal expertise of UNODC. This Platform will allow greater regional cooperation between law enforcement agencies on terrorism and transnational organized crime.

Conscious of the continuous efforts required to promote peace and stability in the Sahel, and informed by the results presented above, the UNODC Sahel Programme identified new strategic priorities to be pursued alongside regional partners and the international community over the next years. These include enhancing operational capacity and information exchange between members of the G5 Sahel, strengthening capacity in the region to prevent violent extremism and address the threat posed by foreign terrorist fighters (FTF), promoting and implementing deradicalization policies in prisons, and protecting children affected by terrorism. These topics are also detailed in the recently published report.

The Sahel-Saharan region has always been a trade and migration route. However, factors such as the lack of state authority, weak justice systems, the collapse of the traditional pastoral economy, corruption and the presence of firearms have created an ideal environment for illicit trafficking, organized crime, corruption, money laundering, and most worryingly, terrorism. Terrorist activities have intensified with global repercussions, as shown by the recent deadly attacks in Bamako, Ouagadougou, Beirut and Paris.

The UNODC Sahel Programme aims to provide responses to these challenges while ensuring high levels of efficiency and ownership of its service delivery, in an effort to reduce insecurity, injustice and impunity, and promote long-term sustainable development for all.  

For more information:

UNODC Sahel Programme Progress Report - January 2016

UNODC Sahel Programme

Sahel Programme results

UNODC Contribution to the United Nations Integrated Strategy for the Sahel