The Liptako-Gourma region, which straddles Burkina Faso, Mali and Niger, is the epicentre of the security crisis in the Sahel-Saharan strip. Despite conflicts and climate insecurity, the region also holds great promise.

Liptako-Gourma Map
  • 3-4%

    of growth rate

    Annual population growth.

  • 42.3%

    in extreme poverty

    A large proportion of the population lives in acute poverty.

  • 90%

    in rural areas

    Population living in rural areas and dependent on transhumance (seasonal) pastoralism and agro-pastoralism.

  • (Source: FAO / 2020)

Since 2012, the region has been plagued by climate insecurity and violence.

  • The Liptako-Gourma region has broad social, cultural and economic continuity, encompassing diverse ethnic groups with interdependent traditions. Difficult climatic and environmental conditions make it a severe and fragile area, despite the great potential for socio-economic growth from the region's livestock, agriculture, mining and fishing resources. Transboundary transhumance, a critical means of subsistence in the region, is particularly affected by insecurity; making it the main cause of inter- and intra-community conflicts in the region.

    Mainly concentrated in northern Mali until the end of 2013, the security crisis had gradually spread to the centre of the country before impacting Niger and Burkina Faso, where the situation deteriorated considerably in 2019 with a proliferation of armed groups, an increase in community clashes and the rise of violent extremism.

    In all three countries, these conflicts have stifled economic activity and led to the closure of several thousand schools and health centres.

  • Many young people now find themselves in a situation of social insecurity, further exacerbating their distrust of administrative and traditional authorities and exposing them to recruitment by radical religious groups and non-State armed groups. Women are particularly vulnerable to this upsurge in conflict, which is accompanied by an increased risk of sexual violence.

    There is an urgent need for more effective coordination between security and justice actors and communities in resolving the Liptako-Gourma cross-border conflicts. UN agencies are working with member states and the Liptako-Gourma Authority (LGA) to ensure that urgent humanitarian needs are met and basic social services - such as access to education, clean water and healthcare - continue. They are also working in a coordinated response to increase the resilience of local communities and to prevent attacks by armed groups and jihadists, which could spread to neighbouring countries.

Humanitarian Emergency

  • In Burkina Faso, the number of internally displaced persons (IDPs) has increased almost tenfold in just over a year (from around 80,000 in January 2019 to more than 920,000 in June 2020). There are an estimated 2.2 million people in need of humanitarian aid, which is significantly straining the capacity of this country of nearly 20 million inhabitants.

  • – Burkina Faso –


    Internally displaced persons



  • – Mali –


    Internally displaced persons



  • – Niger –


    Internally displaced persons



  • (Source: IOM / June 2020)

  • Kaya, Burkina Faso, mars 2020 – PAM / Aurélia Rusek
  • Madeleine Sawadogo

    36 years old, displaced since October 2019 in Burkina Faso

    “I come from the village of Rofenega, located in the central north of Burkina Faso. We fled when the neighbouring village was attacked. Then they attacked our village and my father was killed. I live with a local family in Kaya. I came very early at 8 o’clock this morning to seek food for sustenance. It is our main means of survival. The WFP gives me four bags of grain, two bags of beans, and two cans of oil a month. I don’t have any activities here that give me money. I am participating in each census. As soon as I hear that there are displaced people being counted for aid I go there. I am hopeful that one day my village will be at peace and that we will be able to go back there. For now, everything is destroyed.”

Crisis Prevention

This unprecedented crisis in the region led to the deaths of approximately 4,000 people in 2019.

  • The regions of Mopti and Segou in Mali, and the Northern Sahel region of Burkina Faso are experiencing an exponential increase in social tensions marked by episodes of extreme violence. Living together has become more difficult and communities are under severe strain.

  • In this context, UN agencies, with the support of the Peacebuilding Fund (PBF), and the peacekeeping operation in Mali (MINUSMA), are working closely together to prevent the root causes of the insecurity by tackling youth radicalization, combating violent extremism and promoting social cohesion and peace.

  • Sévaré, Mopti region, Mali, February 2020 – UNESCO / Aurélia Rusek
  • Oumar Maïga

    At the Koranic school of Sévaré in Mali

    “I come from a village in the Tenenkou circle, in Mopti region. Tenenkou is a place that has really been affected by violence. Peace is essential. The fact that a course on peace was introduced in our school was really important for us. This information is useful for me but also for the whole community. We can discuss it with our family and our community and pass on these messages of peace and living together.”

    Through the project “young people as actors for peace and national reconciliation”, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), in partnership with UNICEF and IOM, and funded by the PBF, supports regional reconciliation support teams and oversees the training of teachers in Koranic schools to disseminate messages of peace.

  • Abdoulaye Cissé

    Deputy Director of the Ahmed Baba Institute in Mali

    Abdoulaye Cissé shows the remains of one of the 4,200 ancient manuscripts burned by Islamist groups during the occupation of Timbuktu in 2012. Written in Bambara, Wolof or Hausa and dealing with astronomy, mathematics, medicine, poetry, religion or administrative matters, these ancient manuscripts are the memory of the Sahel.

    From 2013 to March 2019, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), in collaboration with MINUSMA, has conducted a vast programme for the “rehabilitation of Mali’s cultural heritage and the safeguarding of ancient manuscripts”. The protection of cultural heritage is inseparable from the pursuit of peace and reconciliation.

  • Timbuktu, Mali, December 2013 – MINUSMA / Marco Dormino
  • Kaya, Burkina Faso, March 2020 – UNDP / Aurélia Rusek
  • Naomie Ouedraogo

    25 years old, hairdresser in Kaya, Burkina Faso

    “I went to school, but it wasn’t working out. The ‘Dreaming Future’ training showed us how to take control of our lives. You can’t rely on anyone and everyone has to prepare his or her future. The training inspired me a lot to get into hairdressing; hitherto I didn’t take it seriously. After the training, I set up a hairdressing place under this tree in front of my house. From here, I hope to grow the business and to own a proper place. I am hopeful.”

    The “Dreaming Future” project is a local initiative developed by teachers and implemented by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) to empower young people between the ages of 12 and 20 with enterprise development and vocational training. After a course focusing on coaching and personal development, beneficiaries take charge of their future by undertaking a project that they thought up themselves.

Food security and resilience

WFP’s resilience activities.

  • In the Mopti region of Mali, as in the whole of Liptako-Gourma, poor soils combine with the effects of climate change to affect productivity, resulting in high levels of food and nutrition insecurity.

    In Soufouroulaye, the World Food Programme (WFP) has put in place a series of actions to strengthen food security and community resilience. The creation of a community garden ensures the availability of food throughout the year, especially during the lean season, and improves the population’s nutrition.

  • The restoration of land using a technique of digging "half-moons" to capture rainfall, as well as the creation of filter dikes and a pond, has enabled better cultivation and the return of fishing. The whole community participates in the work, in exchange for a small cash stipend. The village dairy has also been rehabilitated, improving the quality and quantity of dairy products and creating more than 10 new jobs.

  • Doungo Dembélé

    33 years old, mother of four children in Soufouroulaye, Mali

    “I’m growing shallots right now and before I had salad. It allows me to lessen my family expenses because I grow the food we need. Now we don’t have to buy food anymore. Therefore, the money I have I can put into something other than food. Whenever I harvest my produce, I divide it into two parts: one goes into home consumption and the other one I transform into a cube of shallot powder (soumbala) for sale to make extra income. I have never seen a project like this. We work in the fields for ourselves and at the same time we receive money for community work time (cash assistance). Thanks to the money I receive, I have been able to pay for private lessons for my children and also pay for some food. I have also taken care of myself sometimes with this money.”

“In helping governments to bring refugees and their host communities closer together, humanitarian and development actors must work to ensure access to education, health and economic opportunities.”

Filippo Grandi
United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees.