Regional Partner: The Permanent Inter-State Committee for Drought Control in the Sahel

CILSS Mandate:

“To devote efforts towards the search for food security and combatting the effects of drought and desertification for a new ecological balance in the Sahel.”


1973 to Present

Average Annual Funding from USAID:

3,400,000 USD

Linked Institutions:

CILSS is the technical arm of both ECOWAS and UEMOA.

Member States:

Originally Gambia, Guinea Bissau, Mauritania, Senegal, Burkina Faso, Mali, Niger, Chad and Cape Verde. Now linked to ECOWAS, its scope has expanded to Cote D’Ivoire, Guinea, Benin and Togo.


The Permanent Inter-State Committee for Drought Control in the Sahel (French acronym: CILSS) was created in response to a devastating drought in the Sahel in 1973. It has 13 official member states, but is currently partnering more closely with ECOWAS, expanding its member base to 17 countries in the region. Today, CILSS works to combat drought, desertification and food insecurity throughout West Africa (WA). CILSS conducts research and distributes information on climate and weather patterns, water management, market systems and agricultural statistics, and implements early-warning systems for ecological events that affect farmers. Through these endeavors, CILSS aims to help vulnerable populations of the Sahel and WA to better predict, adapt to and recover from their changing environment.  CILSS has been designated as the leader for resilience initiatives in WA.  It coordinates AGIR (the EU’s Global Alliance for Resilience Initiative) in partnership with the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and the West African Economic and Monetary Union (WAEMU).

USAID Support:

USAID’s support to CILSS has increased its capacity enormously, transforming CILSS into the leading technical arm of principal regional institutions, ECOWAS and WAEMU. This support has helped CILSS to:

• Create a “cadre harmonisé”: a regional standard of assessment for food security, nutrition and vulnerability. These common assessment tools and standards enable country stakeholders to jointly decide on emergency status, and allow USAID and West African organizations to accurately analyze regional vulnerability to better target their aid efforts.
• Integrate agricultural, meteorological and trade data relating to food security throughout the Sahel and WA, so that all farmers in the region have access to the same information and technology to mitigate climate risks and increase their profit margins for staple crops (maize, rice, sorghum, millet and livestock).
• Help the people of WA and the Sahel become more resilient through USAID-supported CILSS early warning systems for weather patterns and ecological crises that help farmers mitigate, respond to and recover from natural shocks.
• Standardize sanitary and phytosanitary policy throughout the region so farmers and consumers have the same protection from biosafety risks.  
• Monitor changing land use patterns in WA and the impact of land degradation, desertification and human use on the environment.  By documenting the changing landscape, using satellite images and local knowledge, CILSS provides decision makers with information needed for managing their natural resources. 
• Support the WA Land Use and Land Cover Trends Project to document and quantify the impacts of a variety of changes, including in climate, natural resources, demography and agricultural production systems, on the environment and land resources throughout WA.  The project uses satellite images to map and quantify land use and land cover changes that have occurred through the sub-region in the last 35 to 40 years.

CILSS Accomplishments:

• Creation of a cadre harmonisé, which uses five categories to determine the stage of vulnerability. It uses 12 different indicators for the analysis: availability of food, accessibility of food, malnutrition, water supply, etc.
• AGRHYMET, a regional system for data analysis, brings together regional agricultural and meteorological data from as many different research initiatives as possible.
• Regular dissemination of information to farmers by radio, using weather and climate information systems to advise farmers on how to best time their planting and whether or not to use short-season varieties of seeds in order to maximize production.
• Development of early warning systems for farmers so they can better prepare for, deal with, and recover from ecological crises like drought or flood.
• Initiation of a data collection system for intra-regional trade.
• Quantification of land use trends, particularly changes in land resources and land cover from 1965 to 2010, for most of the Sahelian countries.

Last updated: April 04, 2014

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