Climate & Resilience

Strengthening resilience to climate change to ensure people's food security and promoting access to renewable energy as a driving force of development in the Sahel.

People in the Sahel derive most of their of their income from agriculture, which is almost exclusively rain-fed and small-scale, and livestock.

  • Women farmers today face a number of structural barriers that limit their access to land, information, finance, infrastructure, technology and markets. Building resilience requires an integrated approach that addresses these issues in parallel and in the context of climate change.

    In addition, women farmers fare considerably better when they have access to renewable energy sources for processing crops, milling cereals, irrigating fields, cooling and heating product storage systems and transporting products to markets. More generally, renewable energy supplies can provide more equitable and sustainable livelihoods for families, farmers, entrepreneurs, health centres, schools, and small and medium-sized enterprises.

  • Renewable energy sources, in particular solar, are diverse and flexible, ranging from solar lanterns to large 24/7 on-demand grids, solar photovoltaic systems for domestic use, stand-alone mechanical equipment requiring energy, and micro and mini grids.

    There is a huge potential for renewable energy generation in the Sahel region, which needs to be harnessed to stimulate socio-economic development and support the achievement of sustainable development goals (SDGs).

Agriculture, Women and Sustainable Development

(AgriFed) by UN Women

In Senegal, women perform 70% of the agricultural work.

  • The country is one of the largest consumers and importers of rice in West Africa. Since 2018, UN Women has been supporting REFAN, a network of 16,000 women farmers in northern Senegal, to facilitate access to land, skills, technologies and agricultural inputs for climate-resilient production. The programme also promotes access to finance and markets.

  • More than 600 hectares of land have been allocated by local authorities to women rice producers in Senegal, and more than 1,500 women have been trained in production, processing and marketing techniques under AgriFed.

  • Ross Bethio, Senegal, February 2020 – UN Women / Aurélia Rusek
  • Ndeye Gaye

    Vice-President of the Women Farmers Network in Northern Senegal (REFAN)

    “If women want to become more independent, they must be well trained and supported with financial resources. Women are in front of all the activities of the family: education, health and household. From now on, women no longer want to rely on their husbands. Women want to have their own income-generating activities that allow them to better manage their families. This readjusts the balance between men and women. Before, women didn’t make decisions. It was the man who made all the family decisions. Now, the decisions are discussed together.”

  • Fatoumata Niang

    Member of the Sor Daga women’s group in Saint-Louis, Senegal

    Thanks to the support from UN Women, the Dor Saga women’s group was able to purchase their first grain-processing machine. With the income generated, they have been able to invest in two more machines.
    “We learned how to make jams, juices and syrups, and rice soaps. My life has changed a lot. Now I earn more. I help my husband a lot. Now, when the children get sick, I can go to the doctor and buy medicine for them.”

  • Saint-Louis, Senegal, February 2020 – UN Women / Aurélia Rusek

One million cisterns for the Sahel

by FAO

Facilitating access to drinking water and strengthening family agricultural production.

  • The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO)’s “One Million cisterns for the Sahel” initiative, operating in six countries in the region, is building the resilience of rural populations and improving their food and nutrition security, with rainwater harvesting and storage systems.

    Implemented in the poorest communities and targeting women in particular, the initiative has several components: the transfer of money to the beneficiaries who build the cisterns; the creation of community gardens with the distribution of seeds adapted to the context and gardening tools, and support through various training courses on agro-ecology,

  • the impact of climate change and market access. These cisterns (between 20 and 50m³) have changed the lives of thousands of people and have become the new “meeting places” of the villages.

    Before the project’s implementation in Senegal, beneficiaries used to consume only meat, cereals and milk. Now that women have access to water, they also grow vegetables during the dry season. Excess vegetables are sold at the market. Children can return to school because they no longer need to help families and fetch water.

  • Douly, Sénégal, avril 2019 – FAO / Eduardo Soteras
  • Mboya Ka

    Mother of five children in Douli, Senegal

    “Before we got the cistern, I had to travel nearly 9km each day to buy water, often with one or more of my children, and I spent more than 1,000 CFA francs (in Senegal, the average salary in 2019 is estimated at 92,000 CFA). Now I can do other things, like cultivating my garden and meeting other women. I have also learned how to plant some of the seeds I received and I know how to use the vegetables I produce.”

Solar village in Mali


In Mopti region, a solar station has transformed the village of Soufouroulaye.

  • It powers the town hall, clinics, schools and the youth centre. It supplies more than 50 public lighting points, providing light for nearly 90 people. Rural radio stations, a water pumping system for the women’s community garden, a 20-battery charging centre and all the small businesses now benefit from electricity generated by the solar station.

  • Soufouroulaye, Mopti region, Mali, February 2020 – UNDP / Aurélia Rusek
  • Abdoulaye Traore

    Small grocery owner in Soufouroulaye, Mali

    “Before we used solar batteries but now we get electricity, we can have television and refrigerators in which we can store products. I can sell fresh water and drinks. I used to close the shop at nightfall but now I can stay open until 10 or 11 pm. My income has increased a lot because I make more sales. It has really changed our lives.”

  • Madirore Karembe

    Owner of the Soufouroulaye welding workshop in Mali

    “Now I get electricity in my workshop, I have much, much more work than before and I have had to hire apprentices. People come from all over Mopti region to get their machinery repaired, especially agricultural machinery.”

  • Soufouroulaye, Mopti, Mali, February 2020 – UNDP / Aurélia Rusek

“The way is forward. Sahel nations and their proud people should continue to aid each other forward, strengthening their bonds to those who are willing from abroad, united in efforts, to make this real change inevitable into a more sustainable future.”

Ibrahim Thiaw
Executive Secretary for the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification and former United Nations Special Adviser for the Sahel.