ECOWAS-UNDP Technical Consultation Initiates Efforts to Develop West Africa Resilience Strategy

February 13, 2024
Lake Chad House

Lake Chad habitat

© Courtesy Creative Commons/Kino Glax

Abuja, Nigeria, 13 February – The ECOWAS Commission, in partnership with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), today launched a three-day regional workshop aimed at developing the Regional Resilience Strategy for West Africa. Held at the NAF Conference Centre in Abuja, this event represents a significant step in addressing the region's challenges and promoting resilience and sustainable development.

Despite West Africa's abundant natural resources, sustainable exploitation, and equitable distribution of benefits to communities remain challenging. The region, contributing 1.8% of global greenhouse gas emissions, faces increasing temperatures and extreme weather events, exacerbated by inadequate development and governance, and security-related issues.

In her opening remarks, H.E. Professor Fatou Sow Sarr, Commissioner for Human Development and Social Affairs at the ECOWAS Commission, highlighted West Africa's vulnerability to meteorological hazards and other disasters, including climate change impacts, conflict, poverty, and disease outbreaks, stressing the importance of disaster risk reduction, resilient post-disaster recovery and risk-informed development.

"This workshop marks a substantial advancement in our efforts to enhance resilience in West Africa. Through collaboration with UNDP and our stakeholders, we can formulate robust strategies to tackle the multifaceted challenges facing our regions," she said, expressing gratitude to partners and donors for their support, and reaffirming ECOWAS' commitment to strengthening resilience to multiple risks in West Africa.

Honorable Alhaji Mustapha Habib Ahmed, Director General, National Emergency Management Agency of Nigeria (NEMA), stressed the need for West Africa to develop a regional resilience strategy that is efficient and effective. This will guide anticipatory actions and the use of qualitative and quantitative data for risk-informed decision-making. It is imperative for the region to leverage its rich natural and human capital for smart investments to meet its future aspirations.

Discussions during the workshop will cover six thematic areas: good governance, peace, and security; macroeconomic resilience; sustainable livelihoods; social protection and resilience; gender and social inclusion; and climate change and disaster risk reduction.

Blessed Chirimuta, Deputy Resident Representative of UNDP Nigeria, underscored the significance of partnerships for sustainable development and resilience-building: "The ability to prevent, resist, absorb, adapt, respond, and recover positively from various risks is essential for sustainable development, peace, security, human rights, and well-being for all." 

"Our partnership with ECOWAS and the support of Sweden and Denmark are critical in our mission to enhance resilience in West Africa. Together, we must leverage our expertise and resources to pave the way for a more resilient and prosperous future for all," emphasized Mr. Chirimuta.

Under the Sahel Resilience and Climate Security Projects, funded by the Swedish and Danish governments respectively, the workshop brings together key stakeholders from West Africa, including the ECOWAS Commission and its directorates, Member States, as well as regional, continental, and international organizations, including the United Nations.

This technical consultation signifies a crucial moment in paving the way for a more resilient and prosperous future for West Africa amid significant demographic, social, economic, environmental, and political transformations. With the region's population expected to exceed 900 million by 2050 including over 64% under 25 years old, innovative approaches and adaptive strategies are needed to meet the needs of its youthful communities.

For more Information

Reshmi Theckethil, Sahel Resilience Project Manager


ECOWAS-UNDP Regional Consultation Workshop on West Africa Resilience Strategy, 13–15 February 2024, Abuja, Nigeria © Courtesy ECOWAS


About the Strategy


The ECOWAS Commission has implemented various policies and strategies to mitigate the impact of meteorological and human-made disasters in West Africa, including the Disaster Risk Reduction Policy in 2009, the Flood Management Strategy, ECOWAS Gender Strategy and Action Plan in 2020, and the Hydromet Programme. Despite these efforts, the region continues to experience increasing disasters, affecting key sectors and livelihoods. In collaboration with the United Nations Development Programme, ECOWAS has initiated the development of a resilience strategy to strengthen institutional and community resilience in the region.

West Africa is characterized by linguistic and cultural diversity, covering Anglophone, Lusophone, and Francophone countries across 5.12 million km². Rich in natural resources like gold, diamond, and oil, the region engages in various economic activities, yet poverty remains a persistent challenge. With a population of 410 million in 2021, projected to exceed 900 million by 2050, the region faces socioeconomic disparities exacerbated by factors like the COVID-19 pandemic.

Comparative studies on poverty levels reveal alarming trends, especially among the youth population, which comprises over 64%. While the expanding working-age demographic presents opportunities for economic development, it also contributes to security challenges such as violent extremism and terrorism. Limited access to basic services further strains governmental capacity.

Addressing these challenges requires comprehensive sectoral policies prioritizing youth empowerment, education, healthcare, and employment opportunities. By harnessing the potential of the demographic dividend and implementing holistic approaches to poverty alleviation, West Africa can achieve inclusive growth and resilience amidst evolving economic, social, and security dynamics.

Objectives of the Regional Resilience Strategy

The Regional Resilience Strategy for West Africa aims to bolster institutional and community resilience in the face of various shocks and stresses. It provides a strategic framework for ECOWAS, Member States, and stakeholders to coordinate actions at regional, national, and community levels. By prioritizing vulnerable populations, the strategy addresses challenges stemming from conflicts, climate change, health disasters, economic instability, and underdeveloped social protection systems. The region faces a multitude of shocks, including conflicts over resources, climate-related disasters, health crises like Ebola and COVID-19, and economic instability exacerbated by global events. These shocks have perpetuated poverty, food insecurity, and weakened resilience among affected groups such as women, children, and the elderly. The strategy aims to provide directions to mitigate these effects through targeted interventions that enhance resilience and promote sustainable development.

Scope of the Regional Resilience Strategy

The Regional Resilience Strategy for West Africa adopts the United Nations Sustainable Development Group's definition of resilience, emphasizing the ability of individuals, communities, institutions, and systems to prevent, resist, absorb, adapt, respond, and recover from a wide range of risks while maintaining sustainable development and well-being for all. 

This definition ensures inclusivity and considers various stakeholders' perspectives, especially those of the most vulnerable. Resilience-building in West Africa requires a systems approach recognizing interconnected risks at international, regional, national, and local levels. It operates on both individual and collective human levels and institutional/system levels, emphasizing preventive, integrative, promotive, and transformative functions. 

The strategy underscores the importance of absorptive, anticipatory, and adaptive interventions, particularly in climate change contexts. Moreover, it aims to achieve both immediate and long-term outcomes, including sustainable development, peace, security, human rights, and well-being for all, with a focus on leaving no one behind. Importantly, it acknowledges that vulnerability and marginalization are fluid concepts, necessitating continuous adaptation to evolving risks such as climate change, disasters, and conflicts.


The Regional Resilience Strategy for West Africa encompasses six themes aligned with international frameworks like the 2030 Agenda on Sustainable Development and ECOWAS Vision 2050. These themes include:

  1. Good governance, peace, and security: Addressing governance issues to reduce risks associated with terrorism and conflicts.
  2. Macroeconomic resilience: Strengthening fiscal and monetary policies to reduce economic dependency and withstand shocks.
  3. Sustainable livelihoods: Ensuring inclusive and resilient economic opportunities, particularly in agriculture and related sectors.
  4. Social protection and resilience: Focusing on social protection models covering the majority engaged in subsistence agriculture and the informal economy.
  5. Gender sensitivity and social inclusion: Integrating gender responsiveness and social inclusion across all themes.
  6. Climate change and disaster risk reduction: Enhancing risk-informed development to address climate change effects and disasters across sectors.

These themes aim to build resilience capacities at various levels, including ECOWAS, Member States, institutions, communities, households, and individuals, to address diverse risks in the region.


The regional consultation workshop aims to inform priority areas of the ECOWAS Regional Resilience Strategy by reviewing the situational analysis conducted by a Task Force of specialists for each thematic area, which evaluates current practices and proposes political and strategic solutions aligned with ECOWAS's vision for 2020-2050. The analysis assesses exposure and vulnerabilities to various risks and shocks, including governance, peace, security, population growth, agriculture, urbanization, trade, economy, gender inequality, climate change, and violent extremism. Utilizing a Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats (SWOT) analysis, it identifies resilient development gaps and offers preliminary policy recommendations.