The Sahel region of northern Africa is home to several violent extremist groups, including Boko Haram and other groups affiliated with al Qaeda and the self-proclaimed Islamic State group. Niger and Mali have all experienced kidnappings and killings of foreigners, while Chad continues to be plagued by chronic instability. To counter these extremist forces, USAID and the Departments of Defense and State worked together on the Trans-Sahara Counter-Terrorism Partnership (TSCTP). For USAID, the five-year program was intended to provide employment and outreach programs, vocational skills training, and community development and media activities to youth at risk of being recruited by extremists. But how well did it work?
In 2010, USAID’s Bureau for Africa commissioned AMEX International, Inc. (AMEX) to conduct a mid-term evaluation of the TSCTP. The evaluation team reviewed literature and previous field reports and then spent one month conducting fieldwork in Niger, Chad, and Mali. Once in the field, the team collected data from hundreds of questionnaires and conducted focus groups and key informant interviews.
Utilizing a quasi-experimental design, AMEX analyzed survey data to determine if targeted populations in Niger, Chad, and Mali had more favorable responses to the survey questionnaire than comparison populations in areas where less TSCTP programming had been present. The survey was administered in the local language of the community, and the questions were chosen from previous questionnaires that had been administered in these countries, allowing for comparison with baseline data. In all, the evaluators analyzed the results of 1,064 surveys administered in five targeted and four comparison clusters across the three countries.
While results from this quasi-experimental survey design could not be considered definitive proof of impact, the findings did match with an intuitive understanding of TSCTP. According to the surveys, the program appeared to have modest yet significant impact across all three countries.