Providing support to local counterparts across specific West African coastal states to withstand the increasing pressures of violent extremist organizations
WHY USAID/OTI IS IN COASTAL WEST AFRICA
In Coastal West Africa, a region with critical infrastructure, strategic allies, and growing economic influence, stability is a key U.S. foreign policy priority. There is also a growing sense of urgency surrounding threats to stability in Benin, Togo, and Ghana due to deteriorating security in the Sahel, and violent extremist organizations’ (VEOs) need to find additional sources of revenue and recruits. These countries are all grappling with varying and intensifying internal dynamics that could accelerate VEO expansion and consolidation if left unaddressed. OTI’s flexible program is working in remote northern areas of these three countries to help local stakeholders prevent VEO expansion.
USAID/OTI’s ROLE IN COASTAL WEST AFRICA
Across the northern regions of Benin, Ghana, and Togo, OTI supports local stakeholders to withstand the increasing threat of VEOs by addressing instability factors including localized conflict, ethno-religious marginalization (especially that of the Fulbe minority), local grievances against governance structures, and weak social cohesion.
- OTI’s women empowerment activities are turning women into business leaders and reducing intra-community tensions. In Benin, female traders set up a multi-ethnic market management committee that, after training market vendors and beneficiaries, drastically improved the market's sanitary conditions, quadrupled its tax revenues, and fundraised to purchase materials to secure donated equipment. The female management committee also prioritized inclusivity and, for the first time, provided market space for women Fulbe sellers.
- OTI’s conflict mediation activities are enhancing local governance. After training traditional and local authorities on Togo’s rural code, these beneficiaries independently sensitized an additional 277 local leaders including 61 village chiefs, 52 village development committee members, 22 village advisors, eight large landowners, and 42 women and youth. Their efforts improved communities’ understanding about mechanisms to prevent land disputes from escalating into violence.
- OTI activities are helping youth demonstrate leadership in their communities. In Ghana, after high-risk youth participated in dialogues with authorities and other duty-bearers to promote trust, conflict management, and peaceful coexistence, youth leaders prevented a violent confrontation with a Chinese mining company. Additionally, youth prevented a violent clash between supporters of two opposing parliamentary candidates—a conflict which had the potential to spill into neighboring communities.