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The Sahel: Problems and prospects

Briefing/policy papers

This Briefing Paper investigates the reasons behind the notorious problems associated with the ‘Sahel’ countries and looks at the prospects for these nations. The word ' Sahel' has taken on two meanings: first, an ecological zone of sparse rainfall bordering the Sahara desert; and second, a group of countries whose governments have formed common policies in order to combat the effects of drought. The paper focuses on the Sahel taken in the second sense. It concludes that because of a range of strategic, environmental, and geographical problems, it is highly probable that the Sahel will continue to hit the headlines, and that the underlying causes of these 'crises' will remain complex and long term.