Sahel: Mali, Burkina Faso & Niger
Insecurity in remote border regions of the Sahel is not a new phenomenon. Due to the porosity of borders, weak state capacity and presence, and a historical neglect of remote border regions, illicit trafficking of arms, drugs and people, and the presence of armed extremist Islamist groups are commonplace. However, the fall of Libya’s Col. Gadhafi in 2011 set off a chain of events that led to increased levels of conflict and insecurity in the Sahel and Sahara regions.
Libyan stockpiles of arms and ammunition were looted and many of the Tuareg fighters employed by Gadhafi fled the country and returned to their homelands. In Mali, this sparked off a rebellion in the North in early 2012 – a region that continues to be affected by conflict and insecurity.
The challenges are clearly daunting, yet the capacity and resources available to local and national border authorities to effectively manage and secure their borders are wholly insufficient. A further constraint is the breakdown in trust and communication between communities (both nomadic and sedentary) and local border authorities and security providers – which extremist groups have exploited for their own benefit.
DDG in the Sahel
In February 2014, DDG established a Border Security and Management programme (BSM) in the Sahel region – covering Mali, Burkina Faso, and Niger – to reduce armed violence, improve community safety, and enhance border security and management capacity in the Liptako-Gourma region. With support from the Governments of Denmark, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom, and the United States, DDG’s border management approach has five priorities:
- Identifying sources of conflict in border areas and working with local and national actors to strengthen conflict prevention and management capacity.
- Supporting the establishment of a comprehensive border management system, which ensures borders are safe and open to trade and travel, but which can also effectively prevent and mitigate security risks.
- Improving confidence, dialogue and information sharing between communities and authorities, including across borders.
- Reducing corruption and improving the accountability of security providers in border areas.
- Strengthening the capacity of border authorities through the provision of training, equipment and small-scale infrastructure needs-based programming.
In 2014, DDG conducted a comprehensive Border Security Needs Assessment (BSNA) to identify security challenges and needs at the borders and inform the design of the BSM programme.
DDG’s approach to border security and management - like DDG’s overall approach to armed violence reduction - is community-driven. DDG facilitates community engagement in border safety by:
- Facilitating dialogue and partnership between security providers and communities to enable information sharing, build mutual understanding and consensus on shared interests, and foster cooperation in response to insecurity.
- Harnessing our in-house experience developing community safety planning capacity and facilitating community-police dialogue in fragile contexts.
- Providing technical, material and logistical support to facilitate locally driven, cross-border conflict prevention and management initiatives.
- Supporting communities in mitigating the threats posed by small arms, mines and other Explosive Remnants of War (ERW) in border areas.
DDG is working with local and national border authorities (i.e. Police, Gendarmerie, Customs, Border Commissions and SALW focal points) to strengthen their capacity to effectively manage their borders, and is facilitating cross-border dialogue and cooperation among local and national border authorities. DDG provides:
- Technical expertise in the area of armed violence reduction and prevention.
- Policy advice at local and national levels on border security and management issues, providing multi-layered and community-based inovative solutions.
- Process support for the development of information-sharing systems and interfaces between governmental agencies.
- Support to rehabilitate or construct small-scale border management infrastructure.
DDG also works in close collaboration with the national authorities in the three countries to ensure that they have full ownership of the programme.
DDG’s BSM programme coordination office is located in Bamako, Mali, with field offices in:
- Gao, Koro and Mondoro, Mali
- Dori, Djibo and Thiou, Burkina Faso
- Niamey and Ayorou, Niger