USAID Announces Rise: A New Initiative to Build Resilience in West Africa’s Sahel

Today, at the high-level launch of the United Nations’ Sahel Humanitarian Response Plan in Rome, Italy, U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) Assistant Administrator for Democracy, Conflict, and Humanitarian Assistance Nancy Lindborg announced USAID’s RISE (Resilience in the Sahel-Enhanced) Initiative. RISE commits more than $130 million over the first two years of a five-year effort to build resilience to recurrent crisis in West Africa’s Sahel, a region where chronic poverty, food insecurity, drought, and violent extremism collide—and some 18.7 million people faced food insecurity in 2012 due to severe drought for the third time in a decade.

With traditionally high rates of child malnutrition and underdevelopment, one poor harvest can push millions of the Sahel’s most vulnerable into severe risk. RISE will work in targeted zones in Niger and Burkina Faso to help families and communities get ahead of the next shock and stay firmly on the path to development. This new initiative brings together humanitarian and development funding to both address humanitarian needs and build resilience, including efforts to strengthen institutions and governance, increase sustainable economic wellbeing, and improve health and nutrition.

This new investment aims to help an estimated 1.9 million beneficiaries in these areas move from vulnerability to viability, lessening their need for humanitarian assistance in the future. Across the Sahel, RISE will leverage existing U.S. assistance in new ways—together with our development partners, civil society, local governments, and the Global Alliance for Resilience in the Sahel (AGIR)—to advance the resilience dividend across the wider region.

Assistant Administrator Lindborg underscored that USAID will continue to meet urgent needs across the region as it works to build resilience to the next shock. In response to the UN’s new Humanitarian Response Plan, Lindborg also announced $85 million in humanitarian assistanceto address the immediate symptoms of food insecurity and set the basis for development for an estimated one million beneficiaries in Chad, Mali, and Niger.

Determined to get ahead of crises and to protect development gains, in 2012 USAID brought together its humanitarian and development teams to develop a joint strategy for building resilience in the Sahel and released new global Policy and Program Guidance on building resilience to recurrent crisis. RISE is part of USAID’s larger Resilience Agenda—a shared commitment among international donors and country leadership to help the most vulnerable escape cycles of crisis and sustain progress, catalyzed by the 2011 crisis in the Horn of Africa that put 13.3 million people in need of emergency assistance.

USAID’s resilience work is helping people, communities, and countries to mitigate and recover from shocks and stresses in a way that reduces chronic vulnerability and facilitates inclusive growth, which is critical in the fight against extreme poverty. Fulfilling the President’s commitment to ending extreme poverty requires enabling inclusive growth and promoting free, peaceful, and self-reliant societies. RISE builds on this commitment by developing human capital and creating social safety nets for the poorest of the poor.

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