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Humanitarian Aid on the move #10, special issue: Sahel

François Grünewald

The Sahel has been affected by recurring crises and each time the response has encountered the same difficulties. What have we learned from the past? How should the new characteristics of the Sahel be analysed and taken into account? There is the growing pressure on ecosystems, the visible impact of climate change and the further impacts to come, the accelerated urbanization around the capital cities of the region, the unprotected exposure to market forces and the speculation that this brings and the complex interactions between pastoral systems in crisis and agricultural areas, bringing increased inequality, vulnerability and poverty. In addition, there are problems of governance and the redistribution of wealth from underground raw materials, the arrival of new international actors (China, Gulf states) and the emergence of religious extremism, which, till now, was not on the radar screen. All these factors are changing the rules of the game. In this context, how should we respond to the short term needs of the population and reinforce the resilience of individuals, communities, societies and systems? These are the central questions facing the response to the crisis currently affecting our friends in the Sahel and it is around these that the current issue of Humanitarian Aid on the Move is structured.