The Sahel Research Group at the University of Florida is a collaborative effort to understand the political, social, economic 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. The Sahel Research Group brings together faculty and graduate students from various disciplines at the University of Florida, in collaboration with colleagues from the region.

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Sahel Research Group News

Ibrahim Yahaya Ibrahim gave a presentation on “Democratization and Islamic Insurgency: Comparative analysis of MUJAO in Gao and Boko Haram in Zinder” at the UC Berkeley Center for African Studies, Berkeley, CA. November 3, 2015

Ibrahim Yahaya Ibrahim gave a presentation on “Contentious Politics and Religious Discourse in the Sahel” at Pomona College, Claremont, CA. October 30, 2015.

Daniel Eizenga has published a new article “Here’s how you bring down a ‘strongman’ government (without a civil war)” in The Washington Post ‘s research blog: The Monkey Cage. October 15.

Daniel Eizenga has published a new article “Burkina Faso (Vol 11)” in Africa Yearbook. Edited by Sebastian Elischer, Rolf Hofmeier, Andreas Mehler and Henning Melber. Brill, Boston 2015.

For more news on our activities visit Sahel Research Group News.

About us

Over the past couple of decades the Sahel has been characterized by significant efforts at reform and experimentation with democracy, with some successes. Yet the region still presents some of the most difficult governance challenges in the world, and these have been complicated in recent years by pressures emanating from events in North Africa and by developments in the Sahara. Our goal is to attempt to understand the complex dynamics of these quite understudied countries.

A major focus of the Sahel Research Group has been the effort to understand factors affecting the development of democratic institutions in the region, and particularly electoral systems. The Trans-Saharan Elections Project (TSEP), funded by a the grant from the United States Department of State, made possible a number of exchanges with elections specialists in all six countries of the region. It also allowed us to develop the TSEP website that you will find linked on this page, providing information on the electoral systems and processes of each country.

The development of democratic institutions has been complicated and at times undermined by the destabilizing pressures on the region. With a major three-year grant from the Minerva Initiative, a core effort of the Sahel Research Group is to study the intersection of processes of political reform with socio-religious change in affecting the prospects for stability in the countries of the region. More information on the Minerva research project as well as downloadable working papers can be accessed directly on the project page here.

Other research projects featured here, by both faculty and graduate students, complement these efforts by focusing on social, cultural, linguistic and economic issues in the region. News of recent publications, presentations, and other activities by the research group are available on our Research Group News page. We welcome your feedback and interest, and are happy to correspond with other scholars working on the region.

TSEP countries Senegal SENEGAL Population: 12.9 Million Capital: Dakar Land Area:196,722 sq km Mauritania MAURITANIA Population: 3.3 Million Capital: Nouakchott Land Area: 1,030,700 sq km Mali MALI Population: 15.5 Million Capital: Bamako Land Area: 1,240,192 sq km Burkina Faso BURKINA FASO Population: 17.3 Million Capital: Ouagadougou Land Area: 273,800 sq km Niger NIGER Population: 16.3 Million Capital: Niamey Land Area: 1,267,000 sq km Chad CHAD Population: 10.9 Million Capital: Ndjamena Land Area: 1,284,000 sq km