Security, democratisation, and elite politics in the Sahel

In 2022, Dr Bertrand was awarded an ESRC New Investigator Grant to conduct a research project entitled “Security, Democratisation, and Elite Politics in the Sahel” (SDEP-Sahel). This project runs until April 2026, and is implemented in collaboration the Institut Général Marc Tiémoko Garango pour la Gouvernance et le Développement (IGD) in Burkina Faso, the Department of Peace, Security, and Humanitarian Studies at the University of Ibadan in Nigeria, and the Royal United Services Institute (RUSI) in the UK.

Project objectives

Violent extremism has been spreading through the West African region Sahel, fuelling humanitarian emergencies and political upheavals that have threatened recent democratic progress. Governance and security dynamics are closely connected, yet their mutual effects and the role of political elites in shaping these dynamics is still poorly understood. This project aims to identify ways to simultaneously promote security and democratic outcomes, through original and collaborative interdisciplinary research. Our research will address how democratisation, security, and elite politics intersect in Burkina Faso, Niger, and Nigeria: three countries spanning across two conflict zones (the Central Sahel and Lake Chad Basin) and displaying distinct historical trajectories, but facing similar challenges to their security and democratic prospects. The project involves multi-disciplinary, collaborative qualitative research in these countries to investigate the mutual effects of democratisation processes and institutions, security approaches, and elites’ political survival strategies, and the implications of these findings for domestic and international policymakers’ engagement in the region.

Project team

Principal investigator:

Dr Eloïse Bertrand, Assistant Professor, School of Politics and International Relations, University of Nottingham, UK.

Post-doctoral research associates:

Dr Onoseme Fortune Afatakpa, Lecturer I, Dominion University, Ibadan, Nigeria.

Dr Samiratou Dipama, Assistante (Lecturer) in Political Sciences, University Thomas Sankara, Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso.

Dr Maman Lawali Moutari Lawali, Teaching fellow, Swiss UMEF University of Niger and University Abdou Moumouni, Niamey, Niger.

Project advisors:

Dr. Kojo Asante, Director of Advocacy and Policy Engagement, Ghana Center for Democratic Developent (CDD-Ghana), Accra, Ghana.

Dr Nathaniel Danjibo, Reader in Peace and Conflict Studies, University of Ibadan, Ibadan, Nigeria.

Simon Rynn, Senior Research Fellow, African Security, Royal United Services Institute (RUSI), London, UK.

Dr Abdoul Karim Saidou, Maître de conférences agrégé (Associate Professor) in Political Sciences, University Thomas Sankara, Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso.

Dr Ed Stoddard, Associate Professor in International Security, University of Portsmouth, UK.

Prof. Mahaman Tidjani Alou, Professor of Political Sciences, University Abdou Moumouni, Niamey, Niger.