COVID-19 Response in the Sahel Region

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The Sahel Resilience Project re-programmed disaster risk reduction activities to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic at the regional level and in the seven project countries in June 2020, with a total resource envelope of around $1,5 million (initially for 6 months in 2020, extended to 2021). 

Regional Activities 

  • Comprehensive assessment of the socio-economic impact of COVID-19 and the role of disaster risk governance in the Western Sahel and Lake Chad Basin region by Data-Pop Alliance.
  • The concept note  for a COVID-19 Recovery Framework for Africa earlier developed by UNDP through the Sahel Resilience Project for the African Union's Department of Agriculture, Rural Development, Blue Economy and Sustainable Environment resulted in a formal request on 20 April from AUC to UNDP to further support the development of this framework in the continent.
  • Comprehensive assessment of the status of multi-hazard early warning systems (MHEWS) by CIMA Foundation to develop an institutional framework for early warning and early action for AU member states and RECs. The implementation phase will be funded by Italy.

National Activities

A budget of $100,000 on average has been allocated for each of the seven project countries (around $785,000 in total). Disaster management agencies also received two laptops each – in some countries with modems and subscriptions for online meeting platforms – to support disaster risk data collection and analysis. These country activities, made possible by the flexibility of the Swedish government that allowed the project to reprogramme funds for all seven partner countries, resulted in a rich and varied set of interventions that each country can now build on to better respond to the COVID-19 pandemic and a possible future epidemic. 

Burkina Faso

UNDP Burkina Faso helped the government prepare a Community mobilization strategy for crisis recovery which provides a set of COVID-19 IEC materials, and operational guidance to address community needs and priorities in emergency response and disaster recovery focusing on the central region, the high basins, and the Boucle du Mahoun.


UNDP Chad facilitated the establishment of an effective COVID-19 crisis coordination, data collection and analysis mechanism led by the Ministry of Health in collaboration with government agencies such as the civil protection. The Sahel Resilience Project enabled the Civil Protection Directorate to set up a Geographic Information System (GIS) to collect data by type of disaster, date, number of affected people, material damage and loss of life. Another intervention was to provide civil protection staff in field delegations with 25,000 face masks, 500 hydroalcoholic gels, and 25 flashlights.


UNDP Mali extended the support from the Sahel Resilience Project to an ongoing Japan-funded response – in an effort to locally produce half a million affordable masks in total – by subsidizing 15 cooperatives of small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) near Bamako. The contribution from the Sahel Resilience Project allowed three of these SMEs  produce some 20,000 reusable protective masks that were sold at an affordable price to communities through the Malian Chamber of Commerce. This assistance has sustained around 100 jobs in the context of COVID-19 pandemic. At the beginning of the school year 2020-2021, 51 focal points also benefited from a three-day training on the implementation of mitigation measures by teachers, students and administrative staff in 41 schools located around the cities of Koulikoro and Fana (60km from Bamako). 


UNDP Mauritania facilitated the evaluation of technical and operational needs of different services involved in COVID-19 response, and of critical needs of populations and communities.


It triggered the issuance of decrees by the Civil Security Delegation to create 12 Regional Emergency Management Committees to coordinate the emergency response in all regions (or wilayas) of Mauritania.


UNDP Niger supported a study on the Impact of COVID-19 on Food, Nutritional and Pastoral Security, and Socio-Economic Sectors led by the Prime Minister’s Office through the national Food crisis prevention and management system and the Early warning system coordination unit. The study found that food insecurity has increased by 21% compared to 2019, largely due to COVID-19, which the Government now aims to address. The COVID-19 restrictions have led to poorly functioning markets, reduced supplies of cereals, food and livestock, and higher prices. This has led to a decline in household income, particularly for the most vulnerable, who have had to use their livelihoods to secure their food supply.


Through the Sahel Resilience Project, UNDP Nigeria explored environmentally safe and innovative solutions  for medical waste management with Nigerian firms together with its Accelerator Lab. In a country that is overwhelmingly tied to the informal sector, the COVID-19 pandemic is affecting livelihoods and the environment, which in turn have a negative impact on the economy, and the well-being of the people.

In the wider context, UNDP Nigeria supports the Presidential Task Force to compile reports on UN agency specific contributions towards the Nigeria One UN response in Nigeria, which has mobilized a basket fund of $63.8 million for the country’s COVID-19 response.


UNDP Senegal supported the Civil Protection Directorate with a communication guide on COVID-19 mitigation measures, the establishment of a website with key information on COVID-19 pandemic, and a risk communication strategy (to be validated).

In addition, 50 community radios  with the support of 30 journalists from women’s groups have broadcast 20 advocacy spots each (1,000 messages in total), in 5 local languages (Wolof, Puular, Serer, Diola and Mandingo)  about  COVID-19 mitigation measures. 

The implementation of a multi-hazard early warning system, which would include epidemics, is being assessed in Senegal.