Silvo-pastoral zone during the dry season, Ferlo, Senegal © S. Taugourdeau, CIRAD

West Africa - Dry Zone

The Sahel, 11 contries from Senegal to Djibouti, faces a range of threats: its soils are fragile, agricultural land is becoming degraded, and population growth means increased competition for resources (land, water, grazing land, forests, energy, etc). This situation is jeopardizing the peaceful co-existence of different communities, and is compounded by climate change and security threats. CIRAD's work with national and regional agricultural R&D bodies, higher education establishments, farmers' organizations and the private sector primarily aims to tackle two main challenges: more efficient natural resource management and improved food and nutrition security for local people, through ecological intensification of agricultural production systems.

Increased cooperation in the Sahel

CIRAD's involvement in several platforms in partnership for research and training (dPs) and international joint laboratories (IJLs) structures our scientific and gepartnership strategy in the region. To strengthen longstanding partnerships and promote their shared ambition of working towards the objectives of the Sahel Alliance Sahel, CIRAD, national agricultural research organizations in the Sahel countries and regional institutions such as the Permanent Interstate Committee for Drought Control in the Sahel (CILSS), the West and Central African Council for Agricultural Research and Development (WECARD) and WASCAL (Science Service Center on Climate Change and Adapted Land Use) signed the Ouagadougou Declaration on 21 September 2018. CIRAD also works with other regional organizations in the fields of research (CGIAR, Centre International de recherche-développement sur l’élevage en zone subhumide [CIRDES], Institut international d'ingénierie de l’eau et de l’environnement [2iE], etc) and public policy (West African Economic and Monetary Union [UEMOA], Economic Community of West African States [ECOWAS], etc.) to support development operations in the Sahel. Lastly, it collaborates with universities on research and training activities. The CIRAD Regional Office for West Africa - Dry Zone covers part of the Sahel, ie eight countries.

Main research fields

  • Pastoralism, a viable, sustainable production system.
  • Rural land tenure, involvement of local people and public policy support.
  • Animal health, local and cross-border animal disease and zoonosis control.
  • Ecological intensification of cropping systems.
  • pest and disease control.
  • Forest resource management.
  • Food and nutrition security, informing and supporting public players.
  • Organic matter recycling to produce energy and fertilizers for periurban and rural areas.
  • Food crop genetic improvement, adaptation to drought.
  • Supplying agrifood SMEs with bioenergy.
  • The impact of climate risk on agricultural production and forecasting.
  • Local agricultural and food product processing and promotion.
  • Development of irrigation.
  • Strengthening of innovation systems.

Emblematic projects and platforms in partnership for research and training

CIRAD is involved in 80 action research projects in the region, five platforms in partnership (dPs) and two international joint laboratories (IJLs). The map shows the countries where there are major projects and dPs, but does not show specific sites.

Key figures

  • 41 expatriate researchers
  • 5 platforms in partnership
  • 170 missions per year
  • 80 projects
  • 50 PhD students supervised

Some key projects

CIRAD is coordinating or participating in six projects in the Sahel resulting from the first call under the EU DeSIRA (Development Smart Innovation through Research in Agriculture) programme. Those projects will be conducted in West Africa and cover agroecology (FAIR Sahel), pastoralism (ACCEPT), climate disruption (CaSSECs), bioenergies (Biostar), irrigation (IRRINN) and varietal breeding (ABEE).

Find out more >> Latest news
CIRAD's expertise is supporting the EU DeSIRA programme for farming systems that are more resilient to climate change


Platforms in partnership for research and training

CIRAD is a member of five platforms in partnership for research and training (dPs).

Illustration ©Mahamoudou Zinkone

© Mahamoudou Zinkone

Agro-silvo-pastoral Systems in West Africa - dP ASAP
How can we work with farmers in West Africa to design innovative, intensive and ecologically-friendly crop-livestock systems?
This dP aims to make agriculture in West Africa more productive and sustainable, by means of ecological intensification. It was set up in 2009, is based in Bobo-Dioulasso and involves partners from five countries (Burkina Faso, Mali, Ivory Coast, Benin and France).

© S. Taugourdeau, CIRAD

© S. Taugourdeau, CIRAD

Pastoralism and Drylands in West Africa - dP PPZS
Understanding pastoral systems and working to develop them and integrate them into national economies
This dP aims to improve pastoral resource management and the economic performance of pastoral livestock production, to benefit rural development.

Innovation and Plant Breeding in West Africa - dP IAVAO
Rethinking plant breeding programmes by addressing the diversity and complexity of farming systems and demand for varieties
This dP conducts innovative varietal breeding programmes in response to the complexity of agroecological systems in West Africa.

© A. Franck, CIRAD

© A. Franck, CIRAD

Biological Diversity and Agroecological Systems. Soil and Crop Health - dP DIVECOSYS
How can we make use of biological and organic processes and resources to design sustainable practices?
This dP works to foster crop and associated diversity and encourage biomass recycling to boost soil biological activity and fertility, and to mobilize biological interactions propitious to natural pest regulation.

Hulling cowpea in Senegal © C. Dangléant, CIRAD

Hulling cowpea in Senegal © C. Dangléant, CIRAD

Information for Food Security in West Africa - dP ISA
This dP analyses long-term food security trends in West Africa, to pinpoint levers of action for public policy.

International joint laboratories

CIRAD is also a partner, with IRD, in two international joint laboratories (IJLs).

Operating countries

Teaching and training

We are heavily involved in organizing Masters and PhD schools and courses, and contribute to teaching activities. We provide several hundred hours of teaching a year for universities, either in the classroom or for e-learning.  We also offer bespoke vocational training.

CIRAD works with the following training providers:

See also: Teaching and training


CORAF - Transport of market garden produce from Pikine Niayes to the Dakar market © CIRAD, I. Vagneron


CIRAD Regional Office for West Africa - Dry Zone -
37, avenue Jean XXIII, BP 6189, Dakar-Etoile -
Senegal -
Tel.: +221 822 44 84 -
Fax: +221 821 18 79