The Sahel is subject to uniquely rapid population growth - putting pressure on already scarce resources. This burden of a growing population is compounded by climate projections that suggest that by mid-century, crop yields may plummet and the cattle will not survive. By the second half of the 21st century, more people than live in the USA could become ecological refugees. Despite the recent gain in child survival, mortality rates could rise, especially among infants and the elderly. Improvements in health, education, employment opportunities, food security and conflict reduction will be difficult or impossible to achieve without adopting evidence-based policies and large-scale investment in family planning and girls secondary education. If bold policies and appropriate investment are put in place rapidly, then there are achievable ways to prevent such an unprecedented humanitarian disaster. These include (a) scaling up education and empowerment programs for adolescent girls; (b) scaling up efforts to generate demand and improve access to family planning in the Sahel; and (c) increasing international investment in these areas to be commensurate with the need. Failure to take these steps will be extremely costly to the international community and may trigger appalling levels of human suffering.
About Alisha Graves
Alisha Graves leads strategy and development efforts as President of Venture Strategies for Health and Development (VSHD). Together with board member, Malcolm Potts, Alisha co-founded the OASIS Initiative, a project University of California, Berkeley and VSHD. OASIS aims to help overcome some of the most serious challenges to development in the Sahel region of Africa. Alisha leads advocacy efforts for the OASIS Initiative and lectures internationally on population and development, especially population and food security in the Sahel. Prior to that, she worked for six years as Senior Program Manager for Venture Strategies to improve access to misoprostol a generic, essential medicine in Africa and Southeast Asia. Alisha completed her Master of Public Health in International Maternal and Child Health at UC Berkeleys School of Public Health in 2006.