ABIDJAN — The spread of insecurity in West Africa beyond the Boko Haram stronghold of northeast Nigeria has seen violence break out in Burkina Faso, Mali, Niger, and Chad, and has put peace and security at the forefront of most development efforts there.
In response, the West Africa Regional mission of the United States Agency for International Development has shifted focus to promote regional stability by aligning closer with priorities set by regional political and development leaders including countering violent extremism, helping build a regional crisis early warning alert system and promoting peaceful elections.
“Whenever you talk to any of the leadership in the region and you want to talk about development issues, they will always bring you back to peace and security,” USAID West Africa Regional Mission Director Alex Deprez told Devex. “No development can occur without peace and security; it is a prerequisite for a lot of other work that we do and leaders in the region recognize this as their number one concern.”
The West Africa Regional branch of the United States Agency for International Development has focused on collaborating with multinational organizations to create regional solutions to problems facing the 15 countries comprising the Economic Community of West African States. "We are unique in the USAID world," USAID West Africa Regional Mission Director Alex Deprez told Devex.
As a regional mission, Deprez oversees a regional development strategy that is committed to supporting African-led solutions by reinforcing the capacities of regional organizations, such as the Economic Community of West African States, to better deliver on their mandate. Last November, USAID reaffirmed their support by signing an additional $31.6 million in funding to ECOWAS with $25.5 million of that to support countering violent extremism activities in the region.