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Traditional and religious authorities are key figures when it comes to supporting governance in the Sahel. They can therefore support USAID West Africa Regional Mission’s countering violent extremism (CVE) efforts, which apply a holistic approach to addressing the root causes of violent extremism. Based on 1,437 surveys and 656 key informant interviews (KIIs) with citizens and authorities in six border regions in the Sahel, the Customary Characters in Uncustomary Circumstances study shows that these authorities are often the first set of actors that citizens contact in domains such as conflict resolution, justice provision, and – in some regions – even security and basic service provision. They are much more relevant, and also much more trusted, governance providers than local and national state administrations or non governmental organizations (NGOs).