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Burkina Faso may mirror wider Sahelian vulnerabilities

Monday, March 30, 2020

Subject

Burkinabe COVID-19 vulnerabilities.

Significance

The COVID-19 pandemic has now hit nearly all African countries and appears poised to worsen dramatically. The Sahel region will likely be hit hard in the coming months; an epidemic is under way in Burkina Faso, while cases have appeared in Chad, Mali, Mauritania and Niger. Senegal initially showed some success with containment, but may soon have to shift from containment to mitigation.

Impacts

  • Foreign troops’ involvement in counterterrorism could be curtailed, hindering recent new deployments and operations.
  • The crisis could also propel a reorientation of indebted Sahelian states towards Beijing and away from Paris and Washington.
  • Civil society and opposition groups will be even more constrained as governments institute states of emergencies that could be rolled over.
  • If Mali’s polls are a guide, Sahelian authorities will be reluctant to change the political calendar to accommodate public health concerns.
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