EU support for the Sahel


Definitions of Sahel countries differ and often include countries that border the Sahel or have Sahel-like conditions. The Sahel ‘proper’ stretches all the way from Senegal on the Atlantic coast in the west through The Gambia, Mauritania, Guinea, Mali, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Niger, Chad and Sudan, to Eritrea on the Red Sea in the East. Since 2009, the EU GCCA+ has delivered  EUR 80.81 million to 13 national projects in 8 of these countries. Building adaptive capacity and climate resilience lies at the heart of most projects along with actions to mainstream climate action in national planning, policies and budgets. Actions focus on agriculture, land management and forestry, natural resource management, coastal zone management and fisheries.



In addition to these national projects, the EU GCCA+ has supported two phases of LoCAL, a multi-country local adaptation financing initiative that encourages private-sector-focused performance-based financing, including in Mali and Niger. In 2019, Cameroon joined the ranks of EU GCCA+ partners through another multi-country initiative supporting sustainable agri-food systems. Of the Sahel countries, only Eritrea does not host a GCCA+ programme.

EU GCCA+ programmes have undergone significant evaluation to extract best practices. However, as the most recent Global Evaluation in 2014 highlighted, many of the projects were only just coming to fruition then, making a proper assessment of their results and impacts an impossible task. 
In 2018, the GCCA+ Support Facility began an Impact and Sustainability Study of 21 EU GCCA projects that had been closed for at least one year, including three in the Sahel region. Although sustainability and impact levels varied across the 21 projects, key factors for success did emerge and have universal application:

  • Building strong ownership and commitment from stakeholders by using participatory approaches, tailoring objectives to address beneficiaries’ key priorities, combining short-term and long-term benefits, and understanding the social and cultural context of actions;
  • Aligning and integrating actions with existing government policies and programmes;
  • Working with the right implementing agencies – ideally, with strong government institutions. If these do not exist, working with partners who know the country context and have a long-term presence is essential:
  • Combining higher-level policy/institutional work with field-level pilot projects and working to ensure that field-level lessons feed back into policy work;
  • High-quality intervention requires thorough research and analysis before work commences, including vulnerability assessments, value-chain analysis, and analysing appropriate technology options; 
  • Strong knowledge management and learning processes support buy-in and knowledge, including visits between communities, toolkits, and high-quality communication material;
  • Support for legal frameworks encourages long-term implementation.