In September 2014, months before terrorist attacks hit Paris, N’djamena, Bamako, Abidjan, Ouagadougou, and Brussels among others, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) commissioned the Centre for Humanitarian Dialogue (HD) to carry out the present research. Despite the fact that the recent string of attacks was largely perpetrated by assailants originating from the Sahel belt, the ever-growing community of terrorism experts nonetheless seem to lack in-depth knowledge of the dynamics of religious extremism in Africa.
The objective of the research was to evaluate through a common methodology how drivers of radicalization, insecurity and violent extremism are perceived by communities living in border regions of eight Sahel countries (Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Chad, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Nigeria and Senegal). The study was meant to serve as a basis for identifying practical approaches to reinforce the capacity of governments and border regions communities in dealing with the underlying causes of radicalization, insecurity and violent extremism in the Sahel. These studies are the first ever of this kind with a scope extending to the most remote areas of the Sahel countries with a shared methodology allowing a direct comparison of data throughout the region.