REPORT OF THE SECRETARY GENERAL
“ISLAMIC SoliDARITY WITH THE PEOPLES OF THE SAHEL”
TO THE TWENTY-SIXTH SESSION OF THE ISLAMIC CONFERENCE OF FOREIGN MINISTERS
OUAGADOUGOU – BURKINA FASO, 28 JUNE – 1 JULY 1999
- For the past two decades, the African Sahel has been through a persistent crisis which, has profoundly perturbed the balance of the ecosystem and resulted in the degradation of the physical environment with famine, malnutrition and a high mortality rate ensuing.
- The Sahel has been a major concern for the OIC which adopted, as early as its Third Summit Conference, Resolution No. 7/3-P(IS) which made the plight of the African peoples of the Sahel the concern of the whole Islamic Ummah.
- Ever since, all the Islamic Summits and the Islamic Conferences of Foreign Ministers have steadily stressed the important need for the Islamic world to show its solidarity with the Sahelian populations stricken by drought and desertification.
- An initial programme was drawn up in 1983, aimed at alleviating the sufferings of the Sahelian populations, protecting the environment and contributing to creating the bases for a sustainable development of the region. This programme was financed by the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the State of Kuwait.
- In implementation of the directives of the Sixth Islamic Summit held in Dakar, the OIC set up a Committee for Islamic Solidarity with the Peoples of the Sahel which was entrusted with coordinating its efforts with those of the Inter-States Committee for Drought Control in the Sahel (CILLS) and those of the Islamic Development Bank (IDB) with a view to preparing common assistance programmes known as "OIC/IDB/CILSS Programmes."
- Several countries, Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates in particular, contributed to financing these programmes for which an assistance amount to US$180 million was raised in 1992.
- However, the implementation of these programmes, particularly as far as (very short term) emergency assistance is concerned, was hampered by slow payments as well as economic problems resulting from the Gulf war.
- In the face of a worsening economic situation in the Sahelian countries, the need was felt to continue to finance projects especially in the area of food security, crop protection, natural resources and water management. Projected financing is mainly in the form of subsidies from Member States and soft loans (by financing institutions). Implementation of the various facets of the programme under way will overall require US$409,480,000.
- The Committee for Islamic Solidarity with the Peoples of the Sahel held its 12th meeting in Tehran on the fringe of the 8th Session of the Islamic Summit Conference. This meeting, under the Chairmanship of H.E. Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmed Al-Jaber Al-Sabah, Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister, submitted its report to the Conference. The latter approved it, re-appointing the State of Kuwait Chairman of the said Committee. The Summit made a pressing appeal to Member States to extend generous contributions to the OIC/IDB/CILSS Programme for its rapid implementation.
- At this Summit the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia informed the Member States about the existence of a bilateral assistance programme, while Kuwait pledged US$30 million in the form of soft loans in the framework of the OIC/IDB/CILSS Programme. The Summit made an appeal tot he Member States which have not done so to contribute generously to the OIC/IDB/CILSS Programme for expeditious implementation.
- The 25th ICFM held in Doha, State of Qatar, reiterated the appeal and emphasized the importance of implementing the programme before the year 2000.
- On 17 June 1998, the OIC/IDB/CILSS Programme financing parties held a meeting at IDB headquarters, chaired by director of the Arab Fund for Economic Development, on behalf of H.E. the Foreign Minister of the State of Kuwait, and Chairman of the Committee on Islamic Solidarity with the Peoples of the Sahel. In this meeting, Kuwait emphasized the pledge it had made at the 8th Islamic Summit in Tehran to allocate US$30 million as soft loans and in the form of financial subsidy. Other States stated that they are studying the Programme and that their contributions will be announced as soon as possible. Also in the meeting Kuwait pledged US$30 million in the form of soft loans and the IDB pledged US$20 million, part of which in the form of subsidy and the rest as soft loans.
- Immediately after the meeting the Secretary General wrote to all able Member States to help to finance the implementation of the OIC/IDB/CILSS.
- In implementation of the decision taken at this meeting, the Inter-States Committee for Drought in the Sahel (CILSS) was requested to coordinate its action with Member States with a view to submitting priority projects to Kuwait and the IDB for a rapid utilization of funds already available.
- Following a proposal by H.E. the President of the Republic of the Gambia, current Chairman of CILSS and by the OIC Secretary General, a follow-up committee was set up comprising the Minister-coordinator of CILSS (Gambia), the Executive Secretary of CILSS, a high level representative of the OIC and another from the IDB.
- The Secretary General submits this report to the Twenty-sixth Session of the Islamic Conference of Foreign Ministers for appropriate decision and recommendation.
The Committee was scheduled to meet at the IDB Headquarters in February 1999 to consider the list of projects prepared by the Member State of CILSS with a view to submitting them to Kuwait and the IDB. The Committee met at the Headquarters of the African Development Bank on 15 March 1999.