We are The OASIS Initiative (Organizing to Advance Solutions in the Sahel / Organizer L'avancement des Solutions au Sahel). We aim to help avert a humanitarian catastrophe in the Sahel within our lifetime. The OASIS Initiative is building the evidence base and local leadership necessary to implement effective interventions on-scale throughout the region. We are focused on three 'pillars' critical for the region: 1) educate and empower adolescent girls, 2) expand access to voluntary family planning and 3) adapt agricultural practices to climate change. Join the Friends of the Sahel Network listserv to get updates of our work!

The Crisis in the Sahel


Please take a minute to consider this: over the next 30 to 40 years in parts of sub-Saharan Africa, between 100 and 200 million people are likely to be without sustainable food supplies. This was the conclusion of the OASIS@Berkeley conference at the University of California in September 2012. The meeting convened a multidisciplinary group of experts from Africa and North America, who asked what will happen in the Sahel when new projections of global warming are combined with rapid population growth. The meeting report can be accessed via the link below.

The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago; the second best time is today.

For some, the seed of the Sahel will be planted today—as you read the evidence in the report linked below. For others, your seed of dedication to the region started years ago—when you chose to work on similar solutions in the region. Whatever level of expertise and experience you bring, now is the time to get together on the Sahel—to develop a stronger, more effective voice—to present clear evidence and expectations for investment, policies and programs at-scale in the region.

The cost of inaction—in depleted environment, increased hunger, humanitarian care for refugees, failed states, conflict, housing migrants, and the further spread of terrorism—will be many times that of action to improve agriculture, provide choices on childbearing, and invest in girls and young women. We hope you will engage in our network and share your ideas and feedback with us for the benefit of this neglected and highly vulnerable region.

 

Access the report here!

Big issues deserve bold responses: Population and climate change in the Sahel

September 1, 2013 0 notes Reblog

Potts M, Graves A.
Afr. J. Reprod. Health. 2013 Sept; 17(3): 9-11.
http://www.ajrh.info/vol17_no3/17_3_article1.php

Excerpt

The London Summit on family planning in July 2012 represented a turning point in the willingness of governments and large philanthropic organizations to invest in family planning. The goal of the Summit was to meet 50% of the unmet need for family planning in developing countries. But we know from country-level data that when fertility falls, so does the desired family size. So we should aim to meet 100% of the current family planning need since unmet need will always prove a moving target – with demand for contraceptives growing as women have greater choices and realize they can be used safely. 

Any response to the problems set out above must be on a large scale and immediate. Business as usual is not acceptable. Obstetricians, physicians, development specialists, those committed to improving the status of women need to speak out in favor of universal, voluntary family planning. We have to help policymakers and other decision makers to understand the link between population and climate and remind them that demography is not destiny. We need to make the case that – while the cost of region-wide, integrated approaches are high – the cost of inaction is unacceptable. And we need to set much higher goals – because it is only when positive change happens on scale that societies can thrive.

The Sahel: A Malthusian challenge?

August 1, 2013 0 notes Reblog

Potts M, Henderson C, Campbell M.
Environ Resource Econ. 2013 Aug;55(4):501–12. doi: 10.1007/s10640-013-9679-2
http://link.springer.com/article/10.1007%2Fs10640-013-9679-2

Abstract: The population of the least developed countries of the Sahel will more than triple from 100 million to 340 million by 2050, and new research projects that today’s extreme temperatures will become the norm by mid-century. The region is characterized by poverty, illiteracy, weak infrastructure, failed states, widespread conflict, and an abysmal status of women. Scenarios beyond 2050 demonstrate that, without urgent and significant action today, the Sahel could become the first part of planet earth that suffers large-scale starvation and escalating conflict as a growing human population outruns diminishing natural resources. National governments and the international community can do a great deal to ameliorate this unfolding disaster if they put in place immediate policies and investments to help communities adapt to climate change, make family planning realistically available, and improve the status of girls and women. Implementing evidence-based action now will be an order of magnitude more humane and cost-effective than confronting disaster later. However, action will challenge some long held development paradigms of economists, demographers, and humanitarian organizations. If the crisis unfolding in the Sahel can help bridge the current intellectual chasm between the economic commitment to seemingly endless growth and the threat seen by some biologists and ecologists that human activity is bringing about irreversible damage to the biosphere, then it may be possible also to begin to solve this same formidable problem at a global level.

Crisis in the Sahel: Possible solutions and the consequences of inaction

April 1, 2013 0 notes Reblog

Potts M, Zulu E, Wehner M, Castillo F, Henderson C. 
2013 Apr
http://bixby.berkeley.edu/wp-content/uploads/2013/04/potts_2013_oasis_crisis_in_the_sahel.pdf

The following report summarizes the OASIS@Berkeley Conference hosted by the University of California, Berkeley and the African Institute for Development Policy on September 21, 2012

Executive Summary

The following report documents how, over the next 30 to 40 years in parts of sub-Saharan Africa, between 100 million and 200 million people are likely to be without sustainable food supplies. This was the conclusion of a multidisciplinary group of experts from Africa and North America, who asked what will happen in the Sahel when new projections of global warming are combined with rapid population growth. The meeting was not the first on the Sahel, but the breadth of expertise in agriculture, climatology, demography, family planning, the status of women, terrorism, and national security was unique and the conceptualizations of the problems unusually clear and powerful.

The Sahel comprises one million square miles of arid and semi-arid land along the edge of the Sahara, stretching from the Atlantic to the Red Sea. In 1950, the region contained 31 million people; today there are more than 100 million, and in 2050, there could be more than 300 million. New projections of climate change prepared for the OASIS meeting foresee a rise of 3°C to 5°C (7°F to 10°F) above today’s already high temperatures by 2050. Scientific projections several decades into the future can never be exact, and the forecasts of population and global warming made for 2050 might come a decade sooner or later, but they will occur. The projections for 2100 are startling, with a population of 600 million in the Sahel and temperatures up to 8°C (13°F) above today’s norms.

It would be totally implausible to sustainably accommodate this scale of growth. 
Without immediate, large-scale action, death rates from food shortages will rise as crops wither and livestock die and the largest involuntary migration in history could occur. Already today, 12 million to 18 million people in this region are hungry. Early marriage of girls to older men is common in many regions and no progress will be made until the age of marriage is raised and girls are enabled to go to school and make a meaningful contribution to the development of their country. Conflict and terrorism are proliferating, and more failed states are likely.

The strength of the OASIS conference was its goal to create the solutions needed to stave off the worst of the catastrophe facing the region. Building the evidence base to enable decision-makers at a national, regional and global level to invest in this critical change is our immediate purpose. Climate change needs to be addressed through agricultural adaptations and improved water management. Women need to be enabled through family planning to manage their childbearing. The key is to meet the unmet need for family planning in a human rights framework. Investing in girls and young women is critical to creating a successful and peaceful society. The meeting was unanimous that such solutions must be immediate and on a large scale.

The participants left with a commitment to construct a network of experts dedicated to strengthening scientific analysis of the problems facing the region and their solution. Everyone agreed that the cost of inaction — in depleted environment, increased hunger, humanitarian care for refugees, failed states, conflict, housing migrants, and the further spread of terrorism — will be many times that of action to improve agriculture, provide choices on childbearing, and invest in girls and young women.

Why bold policies for family planning are needed now

April 1, 2013 0 notes Reblog

Potts M, Weinrib R, Campbell M.
Contraception. 2013 Apr;87(4):393-5. doi: 10.1016/j.contraception.2013.01.001. Epub 2013 Jan 9.
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23410716

Excerpt

The philosophy that the most transformative thing we can do is to give people access to family planning is also a philosophy of listening to what women want, not telling them what to do. It is lowering the TFR in a human rights framework. It is offering voluntary family planning even in low-resource settings where reducing average family size is one prerequisite for development. It is an important shift away from some of the misleading assertions made by advocates after the 1994 Cairo Conference that “fertility decline was a consequence of the developmental process and not a catalyst, and that the only way to insure its occurrence was by the indirect route of prompting development.” This belief, which is still influential among some economists and some women’s advocacy groups, is unrealistic and counterproductive as the example the Sahel demonstrates.

Niger: Too little, too late

June 1, 2011 0 notes Reblog

Potts M, Gidi V, Campbell M, Zureick S.
Int Perspect Sex Reprod Health. 2011 Jun;37(2):95-101. doi: 10.1363/3709511.
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21757424

Abstract: Niger—with the world’s fastest growing population, its highest total fertility rate (TFR), a small and diminishing amount of arable land, low annual rainfall, a high level of malnutrition, extremely low levels of education, gross gender inequities and an uncertain future in the face of climate change—is the most extreme example of a catastrophe that is likely to overtake the Sahel. The policies chosen by Niger’s government and the international community to reduce rapid population growth and the speed with which they are implemented are of the utmost importance. In this comment, we review the problems posed by Niger’s rapid population growth and the policy options proposed to confront it.

Meet the Leadership Team

Malcolm Potts

Founder
 

Alisha Graves

Co-Founder
 

Paige Passano

Program Officer
Special Projects

Our Partners

All rights reserved © 2013 The OASIS Initiative