The Fragility Exchange

We can continue to build a better world where people and communities can thrive

May 15, 2023
Photo: Adobe Stock

The interconnectedness of our world has never been more evident than in recent years, showing us that threats from far-off parts can hit the continent just as hard and with devastating consequences.

The events of the past year alone have been a clear demonstration of this. While contending with the lasting effects of COVID-19, we welcomed a new threat — the Russia-Ukraine war — which has left in its wake thousands of casualties and forced millions to leave their homes across Eastern Europe. The consequences of these events have reverberated across the globe, impacting countless lives from continent to continent.

These cascading effects set in motion globally, particularly in parts of West and Central Africa, have led to economic regression, food insecurity, inflation, dysfunctional political structures, and inequality, and have compounded into an inclined march towards regression, cast a blanket of uncertainty and dimmed regional development prospects – placing the next seven years of implementing the SDGs in jeopardy. Today, more than 130 million people live in acute multi-dimensional poverty and need urgent development assistance in the Sahel alone.

How have we navigated this?

Despite this fragility, hope remains. Over the past year, we witnessed the incredible spirit and sheer will of millions of people who call the region home as we worked hand in hand with communities and partners in efforts that shaped the past year for us and counted towards sustainable development.

Together with regional institutions, such as the African Union, which play a vital role in unifying member states and driving policy responses, we developed the Accra Declaration, which we hope will turn the tide against the worrying trend of coup d’états in West and Central Africa.

We learned to find ways to help people living in conflict settings and regenerate trust between states and citizens.
Njoya Tikum, Director, UNDP Sub-Regional Hub for West and Central Africa and Resident Representative, UNDP Senegal

We have also deepened our engagement with the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) to support countries rebuilding from conflict and implement mechanisms that anticipate, respond, and recover from disasters. In Liberia, for example, through the UNDP implemented ECOWAS OCWAR-T Project, we witnessed the destruction of more than 105,400 arms, ammunition, and explosives retrieved from the Liberian justice system signalling its commitment to moving past conflict after years of advocacy against the proliferation of small arms and light weapons. Our efforts have impacted the lives of more than 1 million people, including traditional leaders, youth, and women groups. 

In Central Africa, we have begun consultations on a partnership journey with the Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS) on areas of collaboration that can help address the multiple crises that have gripped the region while ensuring no one is left behind. Through our new Congo Basin Offer, we support preserving the basin’s ecosystem and enhancing socio-economic development in the region through nature-based solutions. 

Our work also evolved as we learned to find ways to help people living in conflict settings and regenerate trust between states and citizens. For example, through our Regional Stabilization Facilities – one of our key flagships to regenerate the Sahel – we helped more than 1.5 million people (including 817,631 women) rebuild their lives in the six countries that comprise the Lake Chad Basin and Liptako-Gourma regions. Our interventions also contributed to the return of about 500,000 formerly internally displaced persons (IDPs) by revitalising the economies of local communities, building state security capacity, and rehabilitating essential infrastructure.

The continuous centrality of the agency of young people remained vital to our work as we collaborated with young people from 24 West and Central African countries throughout the year to advance causes related to entrepreneurship, innovation and digitalisation, agriculture, and climate change. Our interventions have given young people a head start in their professional and entrepreneurial journeys, supported local security efforts, and trained the region's next generation of animation industry leaders.

These efforts are evidence of our commitment to the sub-region, and we hope they inspire you to join us in 2023 as we work to effect lasting change in the communities and countries we support. Together, we can continue to build a better world where people and communities can thrive.

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Read our Annual Report: UNDP WACA | Annual Report 2022