Nouakchott (AFP) - The Sahel Alliance contributed the majority of 2.4 billion in development funding pledged Thursday aimed at preventing terrorism in Sahel African countries, as the region struggles with jihadism and lawlessness.
The Alliance -- which was launched last year and includes the European Union, the World Bank, the African Development Bank, the UN Development Programme, Germany, France and six other European countries -- committed 1.3 billion euros at a conference in the Mauritanian capital, it said in a statement on Friday.
The five Sahel states -- Mauritania, Burkina Faso, Chad, Mali, and Niger -- have been struggling against extremism and lawlessness along the Sahara's southern rim since a jihadist revolt that began with a Tuareg separatist uprising in northern Mali in 2012.
The countries had sought 1.9 billion euros to help them fund the Sahel Priority Investment Programme (PIP) for projects in border regions vulnerable to jihadists. They themselves provide 13 percent of that sum.
The EU's International Cooperation and Development Commissioner Neven Mimica also annnounced a 122 million-euro contribution on Thursday.
French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said Paris would add 220 million euros.
Governments hope that with an array of projects, including building schools, health centres and improving access to water, they can prevent communities from falling under the influence of extremists.
Jihadism in the region has been fuelled by the chaos that engulfed Libya in 2011, the Islamist takeover of northern Mali in 2012 and the rise of Boko Haram in northern Nigeria.
The extremists were largely driven out of Mali in a French-led military operation launched in January 2013.
The France-backed fledgling African regional force fighting jihadists is also suffering from lack of funding and shortfalls in equipment and training have led to delays in its operations.
As well as fighting terrorism it tackles smuggling and illegal immigration networks that operate in these vast, remote areas on the Sahara's southern fringe.
A devastating attack in June on the force's headquarters in Mali, claimed by an al-Qaeda-linked group, destroyed the communications room, prompting a brief halt in operations.