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The Sahel Research Group at the University of Florida is a collaborative interdisciplinary effort to understand the political, social, religious, economic, environmental and cultural dynamics of the countries of the West African Sahel. Our focus is primarily on the six Francophone countries of the region—Senegal, Mauritania, Mali, Burkina Faso, Niger and Chad. We are also interested in developments in neighboring countries, to the north and south, whose dynamics frequently intersect with those of the Sahel. In addition to presenting information on our work and activities, we hope that this website will serve as a resource for scholars, students and policy makers interested in the Sahel. Follow us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram or subscribe to our Weekly News Brief

Recent Activities

University Student Religious Activism in the Sahel

Leonardo Villalón and Mamadou Bodian have edited a new book “Entre le Savoir et le Culte: Activisme et mouvements religieux dans les universités du Sahel” with Amalion Publishing. This book analyzes how national political contexts and key sociological factors shape the patterns of student religious activism on university campuses in the region.  An English version of the book is forthcoming.


New Book on Democracy in the Sahel

Our Sahel Research Group colleagues, Leonardo Villalón and Rahmane Idrissa, have recently published their co-edited book: Democratic Struggle, Institutional Reform, and State Resilience in the African Sahel with Rowman and Littlefield. With contributions from six distinguished scholars from each of the Sahelian countries, the book collectively explores the consequences of a quarter century of democratic struggle on institutions and state-building in the region. The book can be purchased on our publisher’s website.  **To order the book at a special 30% discount click, download this flyer or use code LEX30AUTH20 when ordering**


New report maps political insecurity in North and West Africa

The new report “The Geography of Conflict in North and West Africa” is now available online. The report was launched at the Munich Security Conference by the Secretary-General of the OECD. It builds on our research project Foreign Interventions and Transnational Insurgencies in the Sahara-Sahel. This study maps the evolution of violence across North and West Africa, identifies whether and how conflicts tend to cluster or spread, potentially across national borders, and assesses the impact of foreign interventions.


SRG receives new OECD grant to study insecurity and urbanization in West Africa

The University of Florida Sahel Research Group has received a $311,000 grant from the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) to study the impact of foreign interventions on transnational insurgencies in the Sahel-Sahara. Our team will also analyze contemporary urban transformations and contribute towards the Atlas on Cities in Africa published by the OECD. This project is led by Visiting Associate Professor Olivier J. Walther and Professor Leonardo A. Villalón and builds on a 2017 memorandum of understanding between the University of Florida and the OECD.


Fiona Mc Laughlin receives NEH grant to work on vernacular literacies

Fiona Mc Laughlin has been awarded a fellowship from the National Endowment for the Humanities to work on her project, Trans-Saharan Literacies: Writing across the Desert. By showing these vernacular literacies to be robust everyday practices in many African societies, and by tracing their transmission and spread through pathways of Islamization, Islamic education, and pastoralist traditions, I strengthen the case for positing a trans-Saharan sphere of influence.

For more news on our activities, visit our latest group activities.

The Sahelian countries

Move over a country to see its population, capital and area.

TSEP countries

Senegal SENEGAL Population: 14.3 Million Capital: Dakar
Land Area: 196,722 sq km

Mauritania MAURITANIA Population: 3.6 Million Capital: Nouakchott Land Area: 1,030,700 sq km

Mali MALI Population: 17.5 MillionCapital: Bamako
Land Area: 1,240,192 sq km

Burkina Faso BURKINA FASO Population: 19.5 Million Capital: Ouagadougou
Land Area: 273,800 sq km

Niger NIGER Population: 18.6 Million Capital: Niamey Land Area: 1,267,000 sq km

Chad Chad CHAD Population: 11.9 Million Capital: Ndjamena Land Area: 1,284,000 sq km