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Sahel nations want better North-South dialogue

An international conference on development in the Sahel region has wrapped up in Switzerland with a call for better cooperation between industrialised nations in the North and developing nations in the South.

This content was published on September 24, 1999 - 18:16

An international conference on development in the Sahel region has wrapped up in Switzerland with a call for better cooperation between industrialised nations in the North and developing nations in the South.

About 140 government and aid agency representatives came out in favour of development aid characterised by partnership and empowerment.

The calls came at the end of a three-day conference called by the Swiss Agency for Development, and the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development.
The conference in Yverdon-les-Bains reviewed current aid projects for countries in the Sahel region, which includes Mauritania, Senegal, Gambia, Guinea Bissau, Mali, Burkina Faso, Niger, Chad and Cape Verde.

Ministers and NGO delegates discussed the successes and failures of projects involving international aid agencies as well as local rural organisations.

Switzerland has taken an active interest in the region and heads an OECD committee developing support projects for the Sahel states.

Much of the Swiss aid goes toward boosting food production and productivity in the agriculture, livestock and forestry sectors. Small business development as well as education and health care are other focus areas for Swiss aid.

Benin, Burkina Faso, Mali, Niger and Chad are the main priority regions for Swiss government aid.

Some of the problems faced there are reminiscent of other West African countries. The rapid population growth in the Sahel region has for instance led to food shortages.

From staff and wire reports.

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