Following the successful nationalisation of our country programmes in Ethiopia, Mali, Niger and Kenya, SOS Sahel UK now solely operates in Sudan in partnership with SOS Sahel Sudan. In line with the devolution to our other country programmes, SOS Sahel Sudan registered as an independent, national NGO in January 2010 though it continues to receive support under the auspices of SOS Sahel UK until it can operate fully on its own. We do however provide ongoing support to our former country programmes in differing capacities,
SOS Sahel UK believes that Sahelian poverty has its roots in the historical neglect of dryland areas, and particularly in discrimination against pastoralists (livestock herders) and nomadic groups. We argue that herding animals over rangeland is one of the most viable and productive use of drylands, which should be supported and encouraged. With natural resources becoming increasingly variable due to climate change, the case for supporting such an adaptive and ecologically sound livelihood system is overwhelming.
A challenging regionThe African drylands have reached a tipping point. Populations are rising, the climate is changing and inappropriate expansion of mechanised farming and oil exploration is threatening the lives of rural people and pushing them deeper into poverty. Development in such a hostile environment is difficult. The region is characterised by low and unpredictable rainfall (typically 100-350mm per year) and sandy soils, making rain-fed agriculture largely unviable and the provision of basic services a challenge that many governments do not undertake.
Climate change is already making life even harder for the 300 million people who live across the Sahel. Of these, about 60 million (20%) are pastoralists; those who raise and herd livestock, often over great distances. Pastoralists' nomadic way of life evolved in response to climate variability over 6,000 years ago. However, increasingly abnormal climate events combined with ongoing political and economic marginalisation has weakened pastoralists' ability to adapt. Those who have contributed least to the problem of climate change, and who are proven to be good custodians of the environment, are now seeing their opportunities for development destroyed. It is unsurprising that deepening poverty and disempowerment can breed conflict and unrest in these remote areas.
SOS Sahel UK is working to address the poverty and neglect of these communities on the margins, for without such action the Millennium Development Goals, set by the United Nations to halve global poverty by 2015, will never be reached.
Challenging poverty and inequality in the drylands. Learn more