COVID-19 is not the only crisis, and probably not the biggest crisis in the Sahel. But it will likely make a bad situation worse. As the virus spreads, it will do so in a fragile and conflict-afflicted region, inserting itself into already complex and fluid dynamics. As previous pandemics have shown worldwide, policies often prove to be far more influenced by politics, ideology and ignorance rather than evidence and best practices .“Know your pandemic, act on its politics” was an injunction for HIV/AIDS programming efforts in the 2000s. But it can be equally applied to the current context This Alert takes a look at the politics of COVID-19 in the Sahel and the impact of the virus, and governmental responses to it, on civil liberties, the control over state territory and democratic processes. While this is a time of disruption, policy-makers should not let this crisis go to waste and consider COVID-19 as an invitation to increase consultation with affected communities and engage in locally acceptable solutions – with an aim to find a way forward for more inclusive governance in the Sahel.
The Sahelian approach to Covid-19