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In order to move forward with our Phase 1 release of the new Minerva website, this is only a partial list of funded awards. Descriptions of all funded awards will be released throughout February.
A meeting of a Muslim women’s organization in Niger, at a center of the Tidjaniyya Sufi order. Sufism remains an important part of the religious landscape in the Sahel, even if it is increasingly challenged by other forms of religious expression. (Photo by Leonardo A. Villalón)
A teacher and his students at a state-sponsored “Franco-Arabic” school or madrasa in Niger. Such schools teach in both French and Arabic and are highly popular with parents in the Sahel. (Photo by Leonardo A. Villalón)
Herders on camelback moving cattle in Niger. Livestock is an important economic resource in much of the Sahel, but limitations on water and pasturage provide constant challenges to herders. (Photo by Leonardo A. Villalón)
An Independence Day parade on the streets of Ndjamena, Chad. (Photo by Leonardo A. Villalón)
Leonardo Villalón (on right) with colleagues at the University of Nouakchott in Mauritania. (Photo by Daniel Smith)
A man sings religious songs among the crowd at a religious event in rural Niger. (Photo by Leonardo A. Villalón)
A family who depends on a nomadic lifestyle moves with their animals in search of water or pasturage in central Niger. Environmental change and insecurity pose increasing threats to nomadic peoples across the Sahel. (Photo by Leonardo A. Villalón)
A moment under construction in the capital city of Ndjamena, to commemorate fifty years of independence in The Republic of Chad. (Photo by Leonardo A. Villalón)
People and their livestock gather at a well in rural Niger. Water is a scarce and precious resource across the Sahel, and access is frequently a point of contention. (Photo by Leonardo A. Villalón)
This project seeks answers to questions about the factors affecting stability and instability in six African countries—Senegal, Mauritania, Mali, Burkina Faso, Niger, and Chad—stretching across the arid Sahelian region. It focuses comparatively on factors influencing the capacity of these states to manage pressures—such as radical jihadi movements, endemic underdevelopment, and significant demographic changes—and hence maintain stability and ensure the social order and effective governance that serves as a bulwark against radical movements.
The Francophone countries of the African Sahel, collectively among the least developed countries on earth, are also among the least-studied. Concerns raised by regional events in recent years, however, and in particular the rise of Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), have brought a new interest in developments in these countries. In addition to the destabilizing influence of AQIM activity, persistent drought and other economic challenges, demographic pressures from an increasingly young and urban population, escalating social and religious mobilization, and heightened demands for political reform have all cumulated to place significant pressures on these countries forming the southern edge of the Sahara.