Across the Sahel, customary leaders such as village chiefs are increasingly targeted by violent extremist organizations (VEOs) – a dynamic similarly at play in Burkina Faso’s Centre-Nord region. This report analyzes the roles of customary authorities in municipal governance and highlights their contributions to community resilience. In particular, it dissects their contributions to community resilience against violent extremism, highlighting their agency even where under threat. In a comparison between six Sahelian border regions of the Liptako-Gourma, we find that Centre-Nord is the region in our study that scores best on general community resilience. It also scores comparatively well on several other indicators. Notably, respondents in Centre-Nord overwhelmingly feel that their customary authorities serve their communities’ interests rather than their own.
As a consequence, customary leaders are endowed with high levels of trust and their roles in both conflict resolution efforts and security measures are perceived to be positive. To better understand why traditional and religious authorities do so well in the Centre-Nord region, this report delves further into more than 120 key informant interviews (KIIs) and 250 surveys collected in five municipalities: Kaya (CentreNord’s capital), Boulsa, Pissila, Mané, and Kongoussi. One key caveat when interpreting the Centre-Nord data is that – due to security reasons – all these municipalities are located in the relatively safer southern part of the region. Mindful that the Mossi ethnic group is overwhelmingly predominant and monopolizes most of the high-ranking state positions across the region, as well as the traditional and religious authorities’ hierarchies, we selected a number of municipalities that are home to significant minority ethnic groups as well.
About the project
This report is part of a series of reports produced for the project Customary Actors & Community Resilience. The project explores community resilience against violent extremism. It assesses specifically how traditional and religious authorities can improve the resilience of their community. In partnership with USAID and ICCT Clingendael experts surveyed nearly 30 municipalities in the Ménaka and Gao regions (Mali), the Tillabéri region (Niger), and the Sahel, Est, and Centre-Nord regions (Burkina Faso). Results are based on 1400 quantitative surveys and 600 qualitative interviews.