The Sahel and Lake Chad Window of the EU Emergency Trust Fund comprises of nine countries: Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Chad, The Gambia, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Nigeria, and Senegal, along with neighbouring countries. These countries all have a considerable number of challenges that can be addressed by the Trust Fund, complementing other EU instruments.
In the Sahel and Lake Chad region, challenges linked to extreme poverty, lack of stability, economic fragility and low resilience remain acute. This is exacerbated by climate change in a region where more than 80% of the population relies essentially on agriculture and pastoral activities. Irregular migration and related crimes such as trafficking in human beings and smuggling of migrants, corruption, illicit trafficking and transnational organised crime are thriving particularly where there is an insufficient presence of governmental authority and public administration. These security challenges have been increasingly linked to terrorist groups and illicit trafficking of all kinds.
The region also faces growing challenges related to demographic pressure, institutional weaknesses and governance, weak social and economic infrastructures, environmental stress and insufficient resilience to food and nutrition crises. All of these factors are root causes of forced displacement and make people flee conflict, seek protection from persecution or serious harm, or seek new economic opportunities and build a better life. As a consequence, migration pressure is mounting, with serious implication both for the countries in the region and the EU. The Trust Fund project interventions in the Sahel and Lake Chad will go a long way towards both alleviating the current challenges facing the region.
Given the proximity of the Sahel to the EU and its immediate neighbourhood, the EU is working closely with the countries of the Sahel and Lake Chad region to support their efforts to achieve peace, security and development. Current dialogue between the EU and the region of Sahel/Lake Chad on security, stability and migration-related issues is currently being stepped up, based on existing or reinforced dialogues (e.g. Sahel Strategy and the Valletta Summit on Migration) and different platforms (Rabat process, ECOWAS, G5 Sahel, Lake Chad Basin Commission).