The World Bank has announced the release of $450 million for six countries in the Gulf of Guinea. The funding will address conflict prevention and vulnerability to climate change through a five-year cross-border project.
The $450 million loan is provided by the International Development Association (IDA), the World Bank Group’s subsidiary. The funds are being provided to Benin, Ivory Coast, Ghana and Togo. The loan will finance the Gulf of Guinea Northern Regions Social Cohesion Project (PGoG). This project aims to improve regional collaboration and the socio-economic and climatic resilience of communities in the northern border area of the Gulf of Guinea countries, which are exposed to conflict and climate risks.
The project focuses on the development of basic infrastructure, mainly in rural areas. This includes the extension of rural roads, the construction of small bridges, the establishment of soil and water conservation systems, etc. The five-year project will also combat flooding, the construction of community tree nurseries, afforestation, electrification via off-grid solar systems, etc.
Young people at the centre of all issues
“Needs are increasing in this sub-region where multiple crises are converging. The external pressures of conflict, climate change and Covid-19 are compounded by the long-standing challenges of poverty, exclusion and weak governance, all of which can lead to marginalisation and inequality. Lack of opportunities for youth, inter-communal tensions and structural fragilities pose a growing security challenge for the Gulf of Guinea countries, which face serious threats of southward transmission of the rapidly escalating Sahelian conflict,” says the World Bank.
In addition to investments in economic activities in the northern part of the Gulf of Guinea, the PGoG will also support youth-led initiatives, through grants for innovations in sports-related activities, support for the identification of economic activities, and entrepreneurship. Without activities, young people are more susceptible to the terrorist rhetoric that is spreading in the Sahel.
At least 4,600 beneficiary communities
The PGoG “responds to the complexity of the crisis by supporting interconnected and regionally coordinated solutions, security efforts, climate and disaster risk management, and state capacity building,” says Coralie Gevers, the World Bank’s country director for Benin, Ivory Coast, Guinea and Togo.
According to the World Bank, the project is expected to benefit 4,600 communities in the border area in the northern Gulf of Guinea sub-region. The project will focus on vulnerable village clusters in border areas prone to conflict and climate risks. West Africa is particularly threatened by insecurity caused by the incursion of terrorist movements affiliated with Al Qaeda and the Islamic State, as well as inter-communal conflicts exacerbated by climate change.
Jean Marie Takouleu