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
Stability in coastal West Africa, a region with critical infrastructure and strategic allies in the fight against violent extremism and transnational terrorism, is a U.S. foreign policy priority. There is also a new sense of urgency surrounding the threats to stability in the littoral states due to deteriorating security dynamics in the Sahel and the desire of violent extremist organizations (VEOs) to find additional sources of revenue and recruits. Benin, Ghana, and Togo are all grappling with varying and intensifying internal instability dynamics that could expedite VEO expansion and consolidation if left unaddressed. OTI’s flexible program is working in remote communities to help local stakeholders establish approaches to combating the threat of VEO incursion and expansion.
USAID/OTI’s ROLE IN COASTAL WEST AFRICA
Across three West African coastal states, OTI supports local stakeholders to withstand the increasing threat of VEOs by addressing instability factors including: localized conflict, ethno-religious marginalization, local grievances against governance structures, and weak social cohesion. OTI complements the broader USAID presence in the region by providing short-term, targeted programming that reduces windows for VEO expansion and helps national governments and local communities strengthen their resources and readiness to prevent further instability.
AREAS OF ENGAGEMENT
Ghana: Northern Ghana is home to a variety of inter-connected conflict dynamics that contribute to state fragility and could provide avenues for VEO expansion. These include intra-Muslim tension, growing farmer-herder conflict, the confluence of idle youth and lucrative illicit activities, and land and chieftaincy conflict. OTI partners with local governments, civil society, and communities to help build more resilient, stronger communities that can withstand the influence of VEOs.
Togo: Communities across northern Togo face a range of conditions that foster instability and present potential opportunities for VEO expansion including limited state services, strained relationships between communities and security forces, farmer-herder tension, and idle youth. OTI increases these communities’ resilience to VEO influence and also addresses sources of vulnerability found among the border communities.
Benin: Along Benin’s long and remote border with the Sahel, communities have seen a significant increase in VEO incidents in recent years. The Government of Benin responded by increasing the presence of security forces in the area, but long-standing grievances in the north nonetheless provide fertile ground for VEO incursion. OTI engages local leaders in northern Benin to raise awareness of, and incubate community efforts to prevent, potential VEO recruitment.