Op-Ed on Dialoguing with Jihadists – at The New Humanitarian

The New Humanitarian asked me to distill some of my findings from my recent article on jihadist dialogues, the “local turn” in peacebuilding, and the possible ill fit between what local voices want and what international peacebuilders want. The op-ed is here. An excerpt:

This could be the kind of bargain that might ultimately attract jihadists: Amnesty, and Islamisation that goes beyond dropping formal references to French-style secularism (laïcité) from the Malian constitution.

However, what would this then mean for the status of Malian women, for access to education, for the country’s Christians and other non-Muslims, for Muslims who did not accept a “jihadist-lite” kind of rule, for Mali’s traditions of free assembly, music, art, and literature?

Though some Malian elites and citizens appear open to settlements with jihadists, it is difficult to tell what would be acceptable to the wider public, where questions of secularism, law, justice, and Islam are far from settled.

Piece for Responsible Statecraft on Changing Post-Coup Norms

The Quincy Institute’s Responsible Statecraft asked me to expand a bit on my post here the other day about the lengthening tenures of ostensibly transitional West African military regimes. My piece for Responsible Statecraft is here. An excerpt:

American policymakers should not get comfortable with military regimes. If harsh sanctions and threats do not work (ECOWAS tried a sweeping sanctions package for Mali and then backed down when it did not sway the junta), neither should American policymakers fool themselves into thinking that a given autocrat is some vital ally on another priority. The African autocrats who survived the “third wave of democracy” did so because they partnered closely with Washington, Paris, or some other major power.

At the moment, American-Russian (and American-Chinese) competition and the African versions of the “War on Terror” have both led American policymakers to accept certain African leaders’ abuses — sometimes for decades, as in the case of Uganda’s Yoweri Museveni, who has been in power since 1986. The tradeoffs are not worth it, including reputationally, when American backing becomes closely linked with a ruler’s anti-democratic behavior and human rights abuses.

Mali Roundup – 3 August 2022

Find last week’s roundup here.

Yesterday I wrote a post sketching some grim scenarios for Bamako – either harassed by or even under the control of jihadists. The post sparked some good conversations on Twitter, including Nat Powell and Michael Shurkin disagreeing with me that France would mount a major intervention if jihadists took Bamako, and Michael Kevane making an interesting comparison between Mali and Darfur.

The U.S. evacuates non-emergency staff and families – not a good sign.

Killings of civilians continue in Ménaka (French).

Apply the Algiers Accord and organize elections, Algerian President Abdelmadjid Tebboune tells (French) the Malian junta. Meanwhile, a “decisional” meeting (French) on implementation.

A fresh war of words between the junta and French President Emmanuel Macron.

More pressure (French) for transitional Prime Minister Choguel Maïga to resign, a topic we’ve covered here before.

Former Prime Minister Moussa Mara considers (French) – and rejects – the idea of arming civilians, instead favoring a greater effort to professionalize the conventional forces and enhance their capabilities.

The Fall of Bamako? Some Scenarios

The jihadist coalition Jama’at Nusrat al-Islam wa-l-Muslimin (the Group for Supporting Islam and Muslims, JNIM), a subsidiary of al-Qaida, is now openly menacing (French) Mali’s capital Bamako. The threats are more than rhetorical – the July 22 attack on the country’s core military base at Kati, just outside Bamako, showed JNIM’s reach and daring. Jihadist incursions into southern Mali and even into Bamako are not at all new; Bamako suffered a major terrorist attack as far back as 2015. Yet the overall trend line in Mali is more and more violence, and the south (French) is under greater threat than ever before, meaning that jihadist threats to encircle and blockade Bamako are at least partly credible.

What scenarios, then, are possible? Olivier Walther of the University of Florida, a leading expert on patterns of violence in the region (I have contributed to some of his multi-authored reports for the OECD), outlined one grim scenario in a short, provocative thread the other day:

Here are a few other scenarios:

  • Hard jihadist blockade: This would put Bamako in the position of Djibo, a major town in northern Burkina Faso. On and off for the past few years, jihadists have cut off Djibo from surrounding areas, accelerating displacement, further ruining the local economy, and compelling desperate negotiations that often advantage the jihadists. This would be much harder for jihadists to achieve with Bamako, however – it would entail controlling or at least terrorizing six major routes (versus just three in Djibo), and targeting a national capital instead of a provincial town.
  • Soft jihadist encirclement: This would put Bamako in the position of Niger’s capital Niamey, which is surrounded by regions and departments under a state of emergency. Niamey is not cut off from surrounding areas per se, and a degree of normalcy continues there, but traveling even nearby the city can bring unexpected risks, as occurred with the August 2020 killing of some French humanitarians and their Nigerien driver not far from the capital.
  • Increased terrorism in the city: This would make Bamako into an analogue of Maiduguri, Nigeria in the years after Boko Haram’s resurgence starting in 2010 – something far short of jihadist control, but still suffering a frequent clip of terrorist attacks (and I don’t mean just attacks by jihadists, but more specifically terrorism in the sense of attacks meant to instill fear among the civilian population). What that ultimately gains jihadists is unclear; in Maiduguri, Boko Haram’s terrorism set off a cycle of violence between the group and the security forces that initially seemed to benefit Boko Haram, but then state-backed vigilantes (reflecting, in part, popular fatigue with the violence) helped partly push Boko Haram out of the city.
  • The fall of Bamako followed by a rapid French intervention: The outright fall of Bamako to JNIM, whether violently or through surrender, would in my view almost immediately provoke a kind of Operation Serval Part 2. The fall of Bamako would very likely entail the fall of the ruling junta there as well, unless some very low-probability and bizarre scenario emerged whether the junta and JNIM shared power (I can’t see it). The fall of the junta and the jihadist takeover of Bamako, then, would almost certainly have the French screaming “I told you so!” and organizing an intervention. I do not think the French government’s appetite for counterterrorism has diminished, overall; I think they’re just frustrated specifically with the Malian transitional authorities, and that they would go back into Mali without hesitation if the political situation there change. If France came charging in, they would send JNIM scurrying, and after the dust settled Mali would be back to something like where it was in 2013, except worse, with JNIM rebuilding in the countryside and a flimsy, pro-French civilian government in Bamako. Then the cycle of the last decade would likely repeat, perhaps with a beefed-up G5 Sahel Joint Force as a replica of the African Union Mission in Somalia.
  • The fall of Bamako followed by a rapid African intervention: What if Bamako fell and France somehow passed on an intervention? Perhaps in this scenario French authorities would calculate that the French public could not stomach Operation Serval Part 2, or perhaps a vestigial junta (could Bamako somehow fall, and the junta try to rule from elsewhere in the south?). That might leave France (and the US) in support roles as the African Union (AU), the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), or some subset of Mali’s neighbors and peers (Niger + Chad, as in their intervention in Nigeria in 2015?) organized a military intervention. The question then would be whether African forces would organize rapidly or not; in 2012, when jihadists controlled northern Mali, there seemed to be some hesitation on ECOWAS’ part, or at least a preference for attempting negotiations. Would that allow JNIM to look something like Somalia’s al-Shabab in 2009-2010, carving out a substantial territory that it openly governed? Of course, even in al-Shabab’s case their control over the capital was eventually broken.
  • The fall of Bamako followed by stalemate: Would both France and ECOWAS (and Niger, Chad, Senegal, etc.) hesitate to intervene? What then – would there be a kind of Talibanization of JNIM, where they agree to implement their vision within the borders of a single state? Where would that leave JNIM’s ventures in Burkina Faso and further afield? Would JNIM use Mali as a launching pad for some kind of more ambitious attacks elsewhere (potentially returning Mali to the scenario of a rapid French intervention)? Or would the scenario settle into a long-term stalemate, even longer-lasting than al-Shabab achieved in Mogadishu circa 2009-2011? I find this one unlikely but not impossible.
  • The fall of Bamako followed by chaos: What if Bamako falls but no one really “wins”? That is, what if Bamako proves ungovernable for JNIM, amid what would likely be a very unenthusiastic population, massive civilian flight, an immediate suspension of most international assistance and programming, crippling diplomatic and economic isolation of an already desperately poor and landlocked country, etc.? How would other Malian actors react – would there be a bizarre scenario of JNIM controlling Bamako but not Kidal, Timbuktu, Gao, etc? Would JNIM march into Bamako and then march into Mopti, Segou, etc? Or would there be some kind of war of all against all?
  • A failed jihadist attempt to take or hold Bamako, followed by blowback for JNIM: Blockading a city or terrorizing it is not the same as attempting to take it and hold it. What if JNIM seriously tried to take control and then lost to the Malian armed forces – or even to a popular uprising? JNIM leaders must know that even in the best-case scenarios for them, taking Bamako would entail considerable exposure. If JNIM captured Bamako, would Iyad ag Ghali, Amadou Kouffa, Yusuf al-Annabi, and other senior leaders show their faces, as the jihadist leadership did in northern Malian cities in 2012? Or would they rule through proxies? If they show their faces, they’re essentially putting targets on their back, but if they don’t show face, why bother taking the city in the first place – and could they trust mid-level commanders to run a whole capital for them? There is a significant possibility of jihadist overreach here – no matter how much their capabilities have grown, it seems to me that overt state-building efforts still carry more risks than rewards for jihadists. I suppose that’s why ultimately, I still think the first few scenarios I described are much more likely than these scenarios further down the list.

Four Papers/Reports On or Relevant to the Sahel (Shurkin, Wilén, Berlingozzi, Courtright)

Michael Shurkin, “Strengthening Sahelian Counterinsurgency Strategy,” Africa Center for Strategic Studies. Two excerpts:

Two basic types of mobile units offer strong potential: a mobile strike force, comprised of technicals, and an airborne or airmobile rapid reaction force. The former would, at least, also have some artillery capabilities. Sahelian militaries today have mortars and other low-cost, lightweight direct and indirect fire platforms, but they do not have them in sufficient quantities. Furthermore, truly integrating these platforms in combined-arms fashion is a challenge for all armies, requiring hours of training and preparation and thus resources. Sahelian armies also have towed artillery, but their utility considering the logistical requirements is questionable.

[…]

Sahelian governments need a clear strategy and doctrine for their force structures to effectively address their security threats. A useful first step would be to embrace the paradigm of counterinsurgency. This translates into a strategy that pairs combat operations with a population-centric approach that is intended to strengthen relations with local populations and recast the social contract. It requires a force that has built-in elements to work with local communities, to provide justice and law enforcement for them, and to police the military. Absent this, an approach focused purely on combat operations is destined to fail. Sahelian forces simply cannot kill enough insurgents to prevail, and their attempts to do so have been counterproductive. A COIN force should offer, at the very least, the advantage of not preying upon civilians and, at most, sustained pressure on insurgent groups coupled with protection for communities.

Shurkin does a very thorough job here. I think COIN is fundamentally a contradiction in terms, though, whether in Afghanistan, Iraq, or the Sahel. Militaries are for killing, no matter how “population-centric” the approach.

Nina Wilén, “The impact of security force assistance in Niger: meddling with borders,” International Affairs (open access). Two key paragraphs:

Lightly equipped units which are traditionally deployed in urban areas are at an increased risk of attack in more rural zones and lack the capabilities to respond to armed groups. This in turn drives the request for more robust equipment. These trends are reinforced by the Nigerien authorities’ desire for more equipment and assistance, especially combat-related support or equipment, which can be used to fight insurgents and extremist groups. In addition, jealousy between and within units regarding new, donor-supplied equipment is promoting a certain militarization of internal security forces. The mobile hybrid companies, for example, have become ‘elite’ units within their own corps, provoking jealousy from other units who covet their more robust (and modern) equipment and training, similar to that provided to the units discussed above.

Yet, as Frowd and Sandor point out, external actors in the Sahel seek to avoid the very appearance of militarization, often attempting to constrain it by accompanying assistance leaning towards martial training with managerial practices which emphasize the legitimacy of civilian and bureaucratic control. In Niger, as in other states in the region, the training of these new mobile border units has, for example, been accompanied by a heavy focus on courses of judiciarisation, understood as training the security forces in the law of conflict, in battlefield evidence, and in how to correctly conduct arrests and fill out documents so that the legal system can take over the process. This is considered crucial to improve the rule of law in the country: interviewees explained that, before these courses were introduced, security forces did not document what happened in the field, they just caught the perpetrators—or at worst killed them—without collecting any evidence for the justice system to take over. Different roles and relations, in combination with human rights abuses, also contribute to inter-agency tensions: ‘the gendarmerie should normally control the army when they are deployed together, but since the army commit human rights abuses, they [the gendarmerie] are not welcome’.

Adam Sandor (cited in the paragraph above) weighs in with a brief thread here.

These first two papers (Shurkin and Wilén) make for an interesting pairing, obviously.

Laura Berlingozzi, “O sister, where art thou? Assessing the limits of gender mainstreaming in preventing and countering violent extremism in Mali,” Critical Studies on Terrorism. The abstract:

Where and how are women present in preventing and countering violent extremism (P/CVE) in Mali? The article contributes to the scholarship on gender in P/CVE policies by shedding light on the misalignments between societal dynamics and the discursive framework adopted in the security strategies implemented. It investigates how the European Union as a security-oriented actor, (re)produces practices of exclusion rather than inclusion. Relying on a large set of semi-structured interviews gathered during extensive fieldwork, it aims at understanding the conceptualisation – and the gaps therein – of gender mainstreaming by asking: how does the EU translate gender mainstreaming and WPS into practice in the context of P/CVE practice? And, in turn, how do local actors perceive these efforts? The article finds that the implementation of gender mainstreaming has two main sets of limitations which overall reinforce inequalities: first, it homogenises women’s identities and fails at meaningfully reaching rural areas; second, while including some gender considerations about restrictions of women’s agency, it falls short of achieving its overarching aim, which should be truly empowering women by subverting patriarchal structures and systems of inequal power-sharing. In doing so, this study intends to contribute to feminist security studies literature by exploring centre-periphery gaps and differences in the framing of women’s empowerment within P/CVE.

James Courtright, “In Ghana, local problems threaten regional security,” Institute of Current World Affairs. The piece focuses on Ghana, obviously, but it’s also highly relevant to the Sahel. It deals in particular with the stigmatization of the Peul/Fulani group in Ghana and region-wide:

Across the country, Fulani have increasingly become stereotyped as poor, violent and foreign. I saw that firsthand in casual conversations in the national capital, Accra. When I told a taxi driver I was in Ghana to spend time in Fulani communities, he replied that there is no such thing as a “Ghanaian Fulani” and that they are all actually Burkinabe (from Burkina Faso). Another person with whom I struck up a conversation in a bar warned me in hushed tones to be careful because all Fulani were bandits and kidnappers.

[…]

The stereotyping has deadly consequences. This year alone, there have been three documented cases of civilians attacking and killing Fulani in the aftermath of armed robberies. In late May, a mob killed a Fulani man following the armed robbery of a fuel station in Kabori near the border with Burkina Faso. A few weeks later, Seydu Jallo, mentioned at the beginning of this piece, was murdered in Tamale. However, the deadliest of these incidents occurred in early April, when around a dozen people attacked the small village of Zakoli around 60 miles east of Tamale and killed eight people and burned the houses to the ground.

There is nothing inevitable about the spread of insurgency into Ghana, Togo, Benin, Cote d’Ivoire, Senegal, etc. The key independent variable to my mind is not how cunning the jihadists are but rather how the authorities react, and how they treat civilians, in the early stages of a potential insurgency.

Changing Post-Coup/Transition Norms in West Africa?

I think I’ve made this point elsewhere (can’t remember where), but yesterday’s roundup on Burkina Faso reminded me of it, in the context of discussing the visit by an Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) delegation to Ouagadougou. The point is this: ECOWAS seems now to be comfortable with (or reluctantly acquiescing to) two-year transitions, which differ from the previous expectation in two ways – the length (eighteen months) and the precision (“two years” can date from a more or less arbitrary point that is not necessarily when a given junta took power).

The coups in Mali (August 2020, May 2021), Guinea (September 2021), and Burkina Faso (January 2022) all upended business as usual in West Africa and confronted France, ECOWAS, the United States and other external actors with a major dilemma – how much pressure to apply to coup-makers, and to what end? The “gold standard” for an orderly post-coup transition, in the West African regional context, appears to be the fourteen-month transition in Niger in 2010-2011, and ECOWAS (with French backing) sought to enforce a standard of eighteen months. But intransigence from Mali in particular forced ECOWAS into negotiating. Sometimes ECOWAS negotiated in a tough way, as when ECOWAS imposed sweeping sanctions on Mali from January-July 2022 in response to the junta’s proposal for a transition that could have lasted through 2026. Yet even at its toughest-minded, ECOWAS was always negotiating at a disadvantage – ECOWAS is not, I think, going to physically force any junta from power, and I think the juntas all know that. So the end result – and here the juntas watch each other, clearly – is an adjusting of the norms in the ways I described above. Mali’s junta ended up getting sanctions lifted by offering a “two-year” transition plan (but dating from March 2022, meaning that March 2024 will in fact mark three and a half years since the junta took power) and Burkina Faso’s junta now appears to be on the same page as ECOWAS about a “two-year” transition plan (dating from July 2022, giving that junta as much as thirty months in power – not a far cry from what it demanded originally).

(ECOWAS’ mediation/negotiation efforts with Guinea – the new mediator [French] is former Beninese President Boni Yayi – are still ongoing.)

If one thinks that Mali, Guinea, and Burkina Faso are part of an “epidemic” of West African (or African) coups and if one expects that “epidemic” to claim further victims – I’m ambivalent on both questions – then the next question is what expectations the Malian and Burkinabè experiences set up for potential coup-makers elsewhere in the region. Again, I’m not necessarily expecting any more coups in the short term, but any aspiring West African coup-makers now know that they can likely expect at least thirty months in power. Depending on how one reads their motivations – and especially if one is ultra-cynical and sees coup-makers as primarily there for their own enrichment and empowerment – then the incentives are clear. That ultra-cynical view is a bit too strong for me; I think it’s hard to get in the mind of Assimi Goïta (Mali) or Paul-Henri Damiba (Burkina Faso) and separate what may be, on the one hand, their legitimate frustrations over insecurity, civilian corruption and fecklessness, and pressures from below from their own soldiers versus, on the other hand, more self-serving motivations. But even if one sees these officers as heroes (I don’t), the coup/transition combo itself becomes something different depending on the length of time it lasts. Fourteen months, eighteen months…that’s hitting a reset button on the country’s politics, for better or worse. Thirty months, forty-two months…that’s a full-blown military regime. The pendulum has not, I think, swung back to where it was in the 1980s (Mauritania 1984, Burkina Faso 1987, Chad 1990) or earlier, when a coup-maker could expect to come into power and stay there practically indefinitely, perhaps with the occasional rigged election or cabinet reshuffle to placate various foreign and domestic stakeholders. But the pendulum has certainly swung a bit in that direction versus where it was a decade ago, when coup-makers had a lot more trouble making their rule stick – including in Mali (2012) and Guinea (2008).

Burkina Faso Roundup – 27 July 2022

Guinea-Bissau’s President Umaro Embaló, who currently doubles as the chairman of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), visited Burkina Faso on July 24 accompanied by ECOWAS’ mediator for Burkina Faso, former Nigerien President Mahamadou Issoufou. The visit was a follow-up to the July 3 ECOWAS summit, where Burkina Faso’s post-coup transition was on the agenda (French); ECOWAS and the Burkinabè junta, led by Paul-Henri Damiba, continue to appear satisfied with the current twenty-four-month transition plan (which runs through July 2024. Here is the Burkinabè Presidency’s readout (French) of the visit, and here (French) is Embaló’s brief comment.

Former longtime President Blaise Compaoré (in power 1987-2014) returned to Burkina Faso for a few days earlier this month for a “reconciliation” meeting with Damiba and one other past head of state. On July 26, he issued a formal apology to the Burkinabè people and especially to the family of his widely beloved predecessor Thomas Sankara (in power 1983-1987). In April of this year, Compaoré was convicted in absentia of complicity in Sankara’s murder (in the coup that brought Compaoré to power) and received a life sentence that he appears very, very unlikely to serve. The author of a recent biography of Sankara, Brian Peterson, comments here.

Jeune Afrique (French; paywalled) has a brief discussion of the career of the most wanted Burkinabè jihadist leader, Jafar Dicko. Jihadist attacks continue, including the destruction of two bridges (French) on July 15-16 in the Sahel Region (one of Burkina Faso’s regions, not to be confused with the overall Sahel region of Africa).

A Ghanaian TV report on Burkinabè refugees arriving in northern Ghana:

Here is the International Organization for Migration’s latest report (French) on population movements within, into, and out of Burkina Faso.

French Ambassador Luc Hallade upset (French) the Burkinabè authorities and various civil society groups with his remarks to the French Senate on July 5. More here (French).

Sahelian governments should crack down on extremist preaching? Turns out it’s not so simple (French).

Radio Omega with a long report on the “quiet mourning” of military families who have lost someone:

Mali Roundup – 26 July 2022

Find last week’s roundup here, and yesterday I had a post about the political difficulties (and, for the junta, the political utility) of Prime Minister Choguel Maïga – who appears, nevertheless, to be planning for the future (French).

One grim development late last week was the July 22 attack – claimed by the jihadist coalition Jama’at Nusrat al-Islam wa-l-Muslimin (the Group for Supporting Islam and Muslims, JNIM) – on a major military base at Kati, just outside the capital Bamako. See a bit on the attackers, from JNIM’s Katibat Macina, here (French). You can find a good thread on the attacks here. And here’s the Armed Forces’ official statement:

Given the Armed Forces’ difficulties in fighting JNIM, is it (once again) time to consider negotiating (French)?

The regional governors (French) are meeting military head of state Col. Assimi Goïta July 25-26.

On July 20, the Malian authorities essentially expelled (French) Olivier Salgado, spokesperson for the UN peacekeeping mission MINUSMA – MINUSMA was, obviously, outraged (French). The expulsion comes in the midst of serious tensions between the Malian government and MINUSMA. The UN’s Under-Secretary-General for Peace Operations, Jean-Pierre Lacroix, scheduled a five-day visit (French) to Mali in response.

On July 3, the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) lifted the sanctions it had imposed on Mali’s economy – although targeted sanctions on key individuals remain in place. On July 18, the World Bank restarted (French) projects it had suspended during the sanctions period.

Here is the UN’s latest situation report on Ménaka, one of Mali’s most violent regions, covering the period July 11-17. And here’s a thread with some jihadist propaganda from Ménaka.

Mali: Prime Minister Choguel Maïga (Days Numbered?) as the Junta’s Shield Against Criticism

In Mali, the transitional government remains in my view a military junta with a partial civilian veneer. One could view transitional Prime Minister Choguel Maïga (a civilian appointed June 2021) as a full member of the transition, and certainly he appears to have exercised some influence, most notoriously in what appear to be targeted crackdowns (French) on his own critics and rivals. Yet fundamentally, I think he is useful to the junta in a few, interconnected ways – he can absorb criticism and can also float controversial ideas, and then absorb more criticism. That works until the criticism gets too intense, of course, but then the junta can fire him, appearing to be responsive to domestic and/or international pressure, and then find someone else to either reprise the role or to provide a kind of makeover.

It’s been rumored before that the junta, headed by Colonel Assimi Goïta, was contemplating firing Maïga. But criticism has heated up in recent days with statements from political parties calling for Maïga’s firing. Here’s the main statement, from a coalition of parties, released on July 21:

Here’s a July 22 statement from another of Mali’s major parties calling on Maïga to resign, and here’s some coverage (French) from RFI.

Notably, the parties present themselves as anti-Maïga, pro-transition – in other words, seeking to drive a wedge between Goïta and Maïga. Part of that dynamic may have to do with the junta’s own (scary) authoritarianism, which goes well beyond just Maïga’s own seeming reprisals against enemies. Criticizing Goïta is riskier than criticizing Maïga. Yet on another level, (what I take to be) the junta’s strategic use of Maïga appears to be paying off – criticisms that are, ultimately, about the destructiveness of the whole ruling clique can be recast as criticisms of one individual, effectively letting the junta off the hook or at least buying them more time, their most precious commodity.

It’s not that Maïga doesn’t have some support. And I think someone else in the role could improve things in Mali somewhat – but the (very bad) fundamentals would not change with his departure.

Roundup on Floods in the Sahel

Flooding has become a regular and tragic recurrence in the Sahel, a challenge compounded by poor infrastructure – which makes flooding a political issue as well as an environmental and humanitarian one.

A few snapshots:

Senegal:

Torrential rain fell across Senegal on Wednesday, causing floods in the capital Dakar and bringing down a section of one of the main highways into the city.

Cars, scooters and pedestrians inched through torrents of brown knee-deep water as unusually strong downpours battered the semi-arid city, where sandy roads and flat-roofed houses are poorly equipped for the July to October rainy season.

Mali: “Inondation : les populations priées d’évacuer le lit du fleuve.” From Studio Tamani, this segment discusses authorities’ efforts to evacuate riverine areas.

In Burkina Faso’s Le Pays (French), an editorial argues for both increased proactivity on the part of citizens as well as much more ambitious efforts by the state to relocate and care for vulnerable populations.

RFI (French) reports on flooding that has killed roughly a dozen people and left some 16,000 people homeless in Niger, with brief comments from the mayor of a heavily affected commune in the Zinder Region (southern Niger).

Al Wihda Info (French) describes flooding in the Lamé sub-prefecture, southwestern Chad.

Unfortunately, there is very likely more flooding to come. In 2021, in the zone stretching from Mauritania to the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), a total of 1.4 million people were affected by seasonal flooding. Out of the countries in that zone, Chad and Niger were the second- and third-most affected countries, respectively, after the DRC – 256,000 people were affected in Chad, and 250,000 in Niger.