Fatoumata Togo lives in Koro, a town on the Malian side of the border with Burkina Faso. She runs a small restaurant were her meals cater to community members and traders from neighboring Thiou town in Burkina Faso. With the increase of the cross-border conflict and the effects of COVID-19, her business is struggling.
“Before the conflict on the border, we sold all our meals and we had many customers. However, because of the crisis, we have lost customers and even if we prepare the meals, we do not sell enough. Many items remain unsold,” Fatoumata expressed worryingly.
There are many similar experiences throughout the Liptako-Gourma Region (LGR) of the Sahel, an area which refers to the borderlands of Niger, Mali, and Burkina Faso.
Borderland communities in Africa face a triple threat from COVID-19, protracted conflict, and disasters related to climate change. These communities remain inadequately served by national development agendas, especially in times of crisis. The impact of Covid-19 has been particularly pronounced in the Liptako-Gourma Region of the Sahel, in the borderlands of Niger, Mali and Burkina Faso. The pandemic has exacerbated existing food insecurity, displacement, and humanitarian needs in the volatile conflict zone between the three states.
In response to these threats, the Africa Borderlands Centre has launched the sub-regional and cross-border project, dabbed the “Trade for Peace Project”. The project was launched in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso on April 28th 2021. This project aims to:
- Build resilience and to facilitate socio-economic recovery from Covid-19 and conflict within the borderland communities in the Liptako-Gourma Region.
- Address food and economic insecurity at the local level, as a driver and root cause of conflict and instability in the area.
- Strengthen peacebuilding and social cohesion by deepening economic integration through increased cross-border trade, fostering mutual understanding and dialogue between border communities.
- Strengthen food security, improve livelihoods, and increase income opportunities, particularly for women and youth.
The Japanese Supplementary Budget funded project will be implemented by UNDP Country Offices in Niger, Mali and Burkina Faso, UNDP’s Sahel Unit in Dakar, and UNDP’s Africa Borderlands Centre.