From right to left: Zeynu Ummer, ABC Team Leader and Senior Technical Officer; The Ambassador of Japan to Burkina Faso, His Excellency Masaaki Kato; The Minister of Commerce in Burkina Faso, Seydou Ilboulo; UNDP Deputy Resident Representative Isabelle Tschan

On 28 April, UNDP Africa Borderlands Centre launched its 
‘Trade for Peace’ regional project to be implemented in the border regions of Burkina Faso, Mali, and Niger, with funding from the Government of Japan. The aim of the project is to strengthen peacebuilding and social cohesion by deepening economic integration through increased cross-border trade, fostering mutual understanding between border communities, strengthening food security, improving livelihoods, and increasing income opportunities, particularly for women and youth.

Mr. Zeynu Ummer, Team Lead and Senior Technical Advisor at the UNDP Africa Borderlands Centre based in Nairobi Kenya, acknowledged  that, in addition to providing immediate support to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic to border communities, the project will create the basis for developing longer-term programmes to promote resilience and human security in the Liptako-Gourma region by deepening economic integration between border communities through increased trade and dialogue.

The impact of conflict on lives and livelihoods in the Liptako-Gourma region has been devastating. In the first nine months of 2020, over 1,200 violent incidents occurred in the G5 countries, up from 960 in 2018 with an increasing frequency and high incidence of terrorist attacks in the three border regions. With the closure of land borders due to COVID-19 and the scarcity of resources due to climate change, these populations, who derive their income mainly from mobility, feel trapped.

Japan considers that "strengthening the resilience of communities is essential for a lasting peace in the region.” The Ambassador of Japan to Burkina Faso, His Excellency Masaaki Kato, in his speech at the launch event further added that "tackling the situation in the Sahel region requires a series of actions to strengthen the resilience of the local populations". He noted that "Japan has already pledged at TICAD 7 to take action for stability and peace in Africa under the banner of a New Approach to Peace and Stability in Africa (NAPSA). This Japanese approach aims to identify the root causes of conflict and terrorism in Africa and to support, among other things, the strengthening of the institutions of African countries and their governance, while respecting national ownership. In this sense, Japan will continue to provide support to tackle various humanitarian and developmental challenges in the Sahel.”

UNDP Burkina Faso Deputy Resident Representative Isabelle Tschan acknowledged that "the border communities in Africa face a triple threat from COVID-19, protracted conflicts and climate change-related disasters, especially on farmers and herders. Japan's contribution supports the ongoing efforts of the three governments, with UNDP support, for resilience and post-COVID-19 socio-economic recovery.  This project will focus in particular on empowering women - as peacemaking actors - and young people and it will commit to selecting project partners at the local level, especially those organizations led by women and youth.”

Tschan welcomed the successful partnership between UNDP and the Government of Japan, the trust and good cooperation with the governments of Mali, Niger and Burkina Faso. Finally, she thanked the Liptako-Gourma Authority for its partnership with UNDP and its key role in cross-border trade and dialogue.

Women traders are also among the most vulnerable groups and, compared to their male counterparts, they suffer disproportionately from constraints related to cross-border trade activities, ranging from the payment of informal taxes to verbal and sexual harassment and abuse.

Meeting these challenges in the cross-border area will require a synergetic approach that seamlessly integrates socio-economic development, stabilization and peacebuilding.

The Minister of Commerce in Burkina Faso, Seydou Ilboulo, expressed his gratitude to the Government of Japan on behalf of the governments of Mali and Niger. He elaborated that the year-long project will support all three governments in their efforts to build resilience, facilitate the socio-economic recovery from COVID-19 and help reduce conflict in the region.

“In the border area of Liptako-Gourma, the populations of the three countries of Burkina Faso, Mali and Niger have suffered enough from insecurity. Despite their attachment to their land, many of them have had to face forced displacement, resulting in hardships, such as food insecurity, school closures, difficulties in accessing clean water resources, etc.,” he explained.

The “Trade for Peace” project is one such effort which aims to alleviate the economic, social and security impact for the communities in the Liptako-Gourma region.

The launch ceremony was attended by high-level representatives from the Governments of Burkina Faso, Mali and Niger, the Liptako-Gourma Authority, the Japanese Embassy and UNDP.


For additional information, please contact:

Mahamadi Ouédraogo, Tel: +226 75 87 00 18,


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