According to France, strict aid accounting regulations prevent the international community from financing security operations in Africa’s Sahel region, a stripe of land between the Sahara desert to the north and the Sudanian Savanna (historically known as the Sudan region) to the south. The region has for long been neglected by the world’s leading players due to the persisting security issues that no one wants to get involved in. France is the only major Western economy that has the motivation to address this sensitive area. The financing of security operations in poor countries has long been off table for most donors, who are often not willing to fund the maintenance of order.
Sylviane Guillaumont Jeanneney, the President of the Foundation for International Development Study and Research’s (FERDI), commented that “We have launched a consultation on security and development in the Sahel, and we found that the cost of inaction would be far higher than the cost of the investment needed to develop the region”. France’s efforts have been among most important actions in the region. Since the 2012 crisis in Mali, the number of interventions has been on the rise and focused on development.
In 2015, the country allocated €650 million on military operations in Mauritania, Mali, Niger, Chad and Burkina Faso compared to development assistance of €240m in the same year. Unlike France, the international community spent about five times less on security and stability in the region than on development aid. “The international community is very reluctant to finance security operations because they cannot be accounted as development spending. But in the Sahel, the two are inextricably linked,” Ms Jeanneney added.