The OASIS Initiative, a project of University of California (UC) Berkeley, through its partnership with USAID/ SAREL, launched the second annual Sahel Leadership Program (SLP) in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso with a weeklong intensive training session (February 1-6, 2016). The program is catalyzing a critical mass of emerging leaders in the region – from a variety of professional backgrounds (government, civil society and academia) with expertise to contribute to population, food security, and improved resilience. Participants are chosen from the following fields: sustainable agriculture and nutrition, girls and women’s empowerment and family planning. Participants gain a better understanding of how the Sahel’s uniquely rapid population growth (the fastest in all of human history), poses serious challenges for food security later this century. The program also highlights local solutions for overcoming these challenges, especially sustainable approaches for improving food production and incomes and ways to slow population growth through voluntary family planning and delaying marriage and childbearing.
This year’s program brought together 29 participants from Niger, Burkina Faso, Chad, Mali, Senegal and Mauritania. The momentum generated during the weeklong intensive training will be followed by a structured mentoring program, a country-specific group dissemination project and engagement in the SLP network. The OASIS Initiative and partners are seeking continued support to ensure the goal of a critical mass of emerging leaders is achieved through a minimum 10-year commitment to the program. At the opening and closing ceremonies, Dr. Djimé Adoum charged the group to leave the progam with “lots of spice in their bellies” to make change across the region and invited participants to strengthen their links with CILSS in order to become involved in the many region-wide programs they are launching in 2016. The SLP 2017 intensive training is planned for next January in Niamey, Niger.