Press Releases

PRESS RELEASE : UK launches new Sahel Humanitarian Fund [February 2023]

The press release issued by the Foreign Office on 16 February 2023.

UK Minister for Development visits Niger and announces support for vulnerable communities in the Sahel.

  • new UK funding will support vulnerable communities in the Sahel who are suffering from rising violence, displacement and food insecurity
  • the commitment was made by the UK Minister for Development and Africa, Andrew Mitchell, during a 3-day visit to Niger – his first visit to the Sahel region since his appointment
  • the FCDO is launching the Sahel Regional Fund, alongside leading NGOs this month to deliver effective, evidence-led assistance to the region

The UK is teaming up with leading local and international NGOs to deliver protection, family planning and vital humanitarian assistance to vulnerable communities across the Sahel.

This new fund, the Sahel Regional Fund (SRF), will provide urgent life-saving aid and lasting, dignified solutions to people displaced by conflict and violence in hotspots of humanitarian need in the Sahel region, which covers countries from Chad to Mauritania.

UK Minister for Development and Africa Andrew Mitchell kicked off the fund during a visit to Niger this week with an opening £33 million commitment from the UK up to 2026.

The Sahel is facing growing instability and humanitarian need from conflict, climate change, extremism and high food prices – exacerbated by Russia’s ongoing war in Ukraine – and Niger is a country on the frontline of this regional challenge.

The Sahel Regional Fund will help to meet this challenge, enabling national and international NGOs to provide humanitarian assistance to the most vulnerable in humanitarian hotspots of the region. In Niger, this includes parts of Tillaberi, Dosso, Tahoua, Maradi and Diffa.

It will build the capacity of local NGOs who are directly engaging with the people most affected, understanding the realities on the ground and adapting approaches to suit their long-term needs and improve their future prospects. By funding projects over multiple years, partners are able to build relationships and improve direct communications over the long-term with these local populations.

Following his visit, UK Minister for Development and Africa Andrew Mitchell said:

The introduction of our Sahel Regional Fund aims to transform how we deliver aid across a troubled region, informed by the reality on the ground. It empowers local organisations and targets the most vulnerable in a way that listens to them and delivers lasting impact, and we hope others with follow us in this.

By addressing the root causes of this growing regional instability, we can look to harness the true potential of our positive relationship with Niger as a vital regional partner.

That includes continuing to increase access to education, improving lives, and preparing communities to mitigate against future impacts of climate change. The aid we provide today, helps ensure these communities can prosper and thrive tomorrow.

The International Development Minister’s 3-day visit to Niger highlighted the breadth of the UK offer across the country, providing long-term support to Nigeriens.

He saw how alongside humanitarian interventions, the partnership is increasing access to education, improving lives and prospects for Nigeriens, and preparing communities to mitigate the long-term impacts of climate change.

During the visit, Andrew Mitchell met with his Nigerien government counterparts including President Bazoum to discuss Nigerien leadership on climate, security, and crucially education ahead of Thursday’s (16 February) Education Cannot Wait Summit in Geneva.

Ahead of this, the Minister visited an Education Cannot Wait-funded school in Ouallam, Niger, which is supporting children to receive education despite ongoing regional conflict which continues to devastate livelihoods and communities.

Andrew Mitchell was also able to see first-hand our work with partners, including a Marie Stopes International (MSI) family planning community site, seeing how the UK is supporting family planning services through the Marie Stopes Ladies scheme.

He also highlighted to his Nigerien counterparts the UK’s work with the Nigerien security forces to keep people safe, through training, including on countering the threat from improvised explosive devices and responding to conflict related sexual violence.

UK support to Niger has focused on ensuring our interventions can go further, improving planning for and anticipation of recurrent shocks and targeted community interventions, meaning greater long-term impact.

UK Aid to Niger totalled £80 million last financial year.