West Africa is an immense and diverse region of 21 countries with rich ecosystems, including the Guinean Forests, which are recognized as one of 35 global biodiversity hotspots teeming with a high diversity of plants and animals. These ecosystems are under tremendous threatening pressure from increasing population, poverty, unsustainable and illegal land use practices, logging, climate change, poor governance and ineffective policies.
USAID is working to protect key transboundary forest landscapes, including the Guinean Forests and other endangered landscapes in Cote d’Ivoire, Liberia, and Sierra Leone. These forests cover an area of about 1.5million hectares. In 2020/21 USAID’s efforts in protecting these landscapes reduced greenhouse gas emissions by over 8.7million MT. Together with the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), the Mano River Union, and the Abidjan Convention, USAID is implementing interventions to improve the management of these transboundary forest landscapes, protect the plant and animal species that live in them, and curb illegal wildlife trade.
West Africa is also a region with a rapidly growing urban population which faces an increasing demand for water. Millions of people do not have potable water in their homes or businesses, and few receive sanitation services due to the cost and lack of drainage and sewerage systems. This rapid growth is putting pressure on an already strained water and sanitation infrastructure, with municipalities struggling to make improvements toward water and sanitation targets outlined in the Sustainable Development Goals. Sound technologies, tools and information are needed to address these development challenges.
West Africa Biodiversity and Low Emissions Development (WABiLED)
The conservation and restoration of West Africa’s forests and wildlife are crucial to maintain the region’s biological heritage for future generations, meet global carbon emissions reduction targets, and ultimately, reduce the extent and effects of climate change. While measurable progress has been made to reverse past trends, efforts have been hampered by constraints including limited intra-regional coordination and inadequate information and awareness at the general public and policy-maker levels. These challenges, among others, have hamstrung the scale and pace of action required to effectively address the threats to West Africa’s biodiversity and economies.
Between 2015 and 2021, the USAID-funded West Africa Biodiversity and Climate Change (WA BiCC) program worked with the regional partners ECOWAS and the Mano River Union (MRU), as well as national governments and civil society stakeholders across the 15 West African countries, to address these threats by improving intraregional coordination efforts through the development of strategies and plans to facilitate coordination across different institutions. To build on WA BiCC’s foundations and with a goal of ensuring long term sustainability, USAID developed WABiLED.
WABiLED works with partners to strengthen the capacity of national and regional networks and institutions to enforce and prosecute wildlife trafficking laws across the region; implement regional and transboundary cooperation and biodiversity conservation strategies in the key forested countries of Côte d’Ivoire, Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone; and improve capacity for economic planning and development of low emissions development strategies to reduce West Africa’s greenhouse gas emissions, thus contributing to national and global climate commitments.
African Water Association Capacity Building Program (AfriCap)
African Water Association Capacity Building (AfriCap) supports the African Water Association (AfWA) in bringing together leaders from institutions involved in the water and sanitation sector. In regular meetings AfWA members share lessons learned and best practices on issues concerning, but not limited to, drinking water production and distribution, management of sanitation services, and water and sanitation regulations and policies. AfriCap disseminates informative products consistent with the demands of the AfWA members; develops partnerships and mentoring relationships between AfWA members; and strives to Improve AfWA's institutional capacity.
Members include: African Water and Sanitation Academy (AWASA); West Africa Municipal WASH (MuniWASH), African Ministers’ Council on Water (AMCOW); with Regional Implementing Partners being; CEMEAU (ONEA) in West Africa; ERA (CAMEROON) representing Central Africa; IREC (NWSC) for East Africa; and RAND WATER and Ethekwini Municipality for Southern Africa.
The West Africa Municipal Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene (MuniWASH)
West Africa Municipal Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene aims to expand city-wide water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) services that reach poor and underserved community members in priority municipalities.
Since September 2019 MuniWASH has been working with government ministries and agencies and with multiple service providers (public and private) in Benin and Cote d’Ivoire to improve financial viability and sustainability of WASH services, technical and operational performance, and governance and management. MuniWASH also collaborates with the African Water Association (AfWA) as a learning partner to capture lessons learned and help guide urban WASH programming. By the end of the activity 10,000 people who have no potable water, will have access to basic drinking water services and 65,000 people will have access to basic sanitation.
Resilient Ecosystems and Sustainable Transformation of Rural Economies (RESTORE)
Cocoa is the leading export of Côte d’Ivoire and Ghana, with thousands of families relying on the crop for their livelihoods. Yet cocoa farmers capture only about 5.5 percent of the value in the cocoa and chocolate supply chain. As a result, food insecurity is widespread and there has been a surge in illegal and environmentally destructive activities like gold mining and logging.
RESTORE brings together cocoa producing families, governments, and the private sector to improve livelihoods for cocoa farmers, increase tree cover, and help reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in Ghana and Côte d’Ivoire. It will also have a direct impact on an estimated 15,000 farmers managing 50,000 hectares of farmland.
SERVIR WEST AFRICA 2 (SERVIR WA 2)
SERVIR WA 2 is a joint initiative of NASA and USAID that aims to increase the ability of local, national, and regional institutions to apply geospatial technologies and analysis that improve resilience, food security, disaster risk reduction, and sustainable resource management. With Earth Observation data drawn from satellite images, GIS and predictive models, SERVIR WA 2 prepares its consortium of partners in West Africa to mitigate the impact of climate change and ensure appropriate land us to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.