Water as a vector for peace in the Sahel
The Sahel region has experienced a deterioration of its security situation over the last seven years in which access to water and natural resources play a major role in tensions between communities. This situation has notably been the result of deficiencies in development policies and crises of confidence in the relations between states and their populations. Recent multilateral initiatives aim to address this issue through a "security and development" nexus. Their implementation has hitherto been characterised by a focus on the military component. The vital and strategic aspect of access to water and basic services is however underestimated.
The Liptako-Gourma region, shared by Burkina Faso, Mali and Niger, is an epicentre of the security crisis affecting the Sahel. Local populations are particularly affected by the armed violence of the belligerents and by the sharp increase in humanitarian needs. Access to water, as a vital resource for basic needs, and as a key to accessing natural resources that can be exploited by the populations, is a major challenge for diplomacy in favour of peace and social cohesion between communities. Such an approach requires the inclusion of local actors in the definition of the problems and responses to the crisis, through sustainable solutions for which they are in a position to play a major role.