Learning from the Millennium Development Goals: How Can the Global Alliance for Resilience Contribute to the Achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals?

Ousman Tall, Sahel and West Africa Club (SWAC) Secretariat

The Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) were globally attained but while Sub-Saharan Africa reduced poverty levels from 56.5% in 1990 to 48.4% in 2010, it did not achieve the target of reducing the poverty rate in half – to 28.25 % – by 2015. The region is faced with numerous problems that have resulted in high levels of insecurity and instability. The ecology is fragile due to climate shocks and environmental disasters, such as recurrent droughts, floods, locust threats and desertification. This has greatly affected pastoralist and agro-pastoralist activities and resulted in low production and productivity. Armed conflicts in the region have displaced a large number of the population and increased vulnerability. Crisis is persistent and inevitable, especially within the poorest areas of the region. While these challenges might seem enormous, they are by no means insurmountable. This is evident in the many policies, programmes and projects being implemented in the region and in the success stories of the Food Crisis Prevention Network (RPCA).

The development plans of most countries in the region address these persistent crises in a manner consistent with global development frameworks that do not adequately consider the local perspective and understanding of the nature and scope of the problems such countries are confronting. Efforts should be made to target the most vulnerable segments of the population within the context of resilience building, as countries in the region are faced with situations in which they have to adapt, plan and continuously adjust their responses to the realities at hand.  At the same time, they also have to transform and undertake a new development trajectory as and when necessary. This is the focus of the Global Alliance for Resilience (AGIR) which views resilience as a defining characteristic of sustainability and is based on a shared understanding of what the term ‘resilience’ means:

“The capacity of vulnerable households, families, communities and systems to face uncertainty and the risk of shocks, to withstand and respond effectively to shocks, as well as to recover and adapt in a sustainable manner”.

Priorities are defined based on the shared understanding of the major issues and through a participatory and inclusive process. Using a forward-looking approach, the AGIR Regional Roadmap seeks to complement the SDGs through the development of National Resilience Priorities (NRPs), which translate the objectives of AGIR into processes for building resilience at the national level.

AGIR builds on the following four pillars to achieve its overall objective of eradicating hunger and malnutrition in the Sahel and West Africa within twenty years:

  • Improve social protection for the most vulnerable households and communities.
  • Strengthen the nutrition of vulnerable households.
  • Sustainably improve agricultural & food production, the incomes of vulnerable households and their access to food.
  • Strengthen the governance of food and nutritional security.

Each individual country process seeks to align its resilience priorities with other national objectives that are consistent with the SDGs and other frameworks. The phenomenon of climate change is integrated in the NRPs. The requisite national policies and regulations, the structure for implementation and the institutional arrangements and modalities for support are being put in place. By promoting an intersectoral co-ordination approach, AGIR can better influence the effectiveness of interventions and help the implementation of the post-2015 Development Agenda.

During the implementation of the MDGs, most countries in the Sahel and West Africa lacked the basic information and capacity to conduct the analysis required to monitor and report on its progress. This issue was even more prevalent in Sub-Saharan Africa where 61% of the countries lacked the means to monitor poverty, which is one of the main goals of the MDGs.  The SDGs implementation process is designed to correct this shortfall, especially during this early period of the implementation process. AGIR is also mindful of the need to properly measure and report on indicators. For example, in the implementation of its Regional Roadmap, AGIR is ensuring that the sophistication, complementarity, combination and harmonisation of tools are addressed at all levels in measuring resilience and that the tools are usable and affordable within national and local contexts.

The political will to support the AGIR process has been demonstrated by leaders in the region. Under the political leadership of ECOWAS and UEMOA, the AGIR Regional Roadmap is being translated into NRPs for the 17 countries in the Sahel and West Africa. These national inclusive processes for defining the NRPs are at different stages of implementation.


As these countries move towards the completion of the NRPs, other regional initiatives will have to be accelerated in support of their implementation. The harmonisation of tools for measuring resilience and the framework for monitoring resilience interventions, which are already on-going, need to be accelerated. There is also a need to strengthen the convergence, co-ordination and synergy among actors working on resilience in the region, under the common framework offered by AGIR. The Food Crisis Prevention Network (RPCA) has appealed for such actions at almost all of its last meetings. When Network members meet at the RPCA Meeting from 13-15 April at the OECD in Paris, it is hoped that this call will be reiterated with additional support for the implementation of the Regional Roadmap and for countries that have developed their NRPs.

There is a positive correlation between the implementation of the AGIR Regional Roadmap and the achievement of some of the SDGs – especially goals 1 & 2 (ending poverty and hunger respectively) – in the Sahel and West Africa, and support for the implementation of AGIR in any form is either direct or indirect support for the implementation of the SDGs.

Useful links

OECD work on the Sustainable Development Goals

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