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Member Research & Reports

Member Research & Reports

Berkeley: Africa’s Western Sahel on the Brink of Crisis, Researchers Warn

In Africa’s Western Sahel, an arid region on the southern border of the Sahara Desert, the population will more than double to 450 million by 2050. Meanwhile, temperatures are projected to climb three degrees Celsius above 1950 levels, as climate change brings on more unpredictable and extreme weather.

In a new commentary published in Nature, three UC Berkeley researchers and their coauthors argue that without considerable government investment in four areas — family planning, girls’ education, agriculture and security — Western Sahel countries’ political and economic systems could collapse. In a region with widespread hunger and malnutrition, rising food and economic insecurity could pave the way for famines, mass migration, and violent conflict. Only by investing heavily in forward-looking programs, the researchers argue, can governments avert serious disruptions down the line.

The research was conducted by lead author Ms. Alisha Graves, a University of California, Berkeley School of Public Health alumna and academic coordinator and cofounder of the UC Berkeley Organizing to Advance Solutions in the Sahel Initiative (OASIS), Mr. Lorenzo Rosa, a PhD candidate in the Department of Environmental Science, Policy, and Management, and Dr. Fadji Maina, a postdoctoral research scientist at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, along with two researchers in Niger and Burkina Faso. OASIS is a project of the Bixby Center at Berkeley Public Health in collaboration with the College of Natural Resources.

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