Ben Robinson – 2023 Project Sahel

Expedition leader Ben Robinson has developed his core skills working in trans-disciplinary research teams in the Humanitarian Energy sector across a number of complex contextual environments ranging from African conflict zones to the high Himalayas. Ben is about to complete his PhD at the University of Nottingham where he focused on designing innovative methods for Humanitarian Energy Access. In addition, Ben also is the founder of ESCAPAID, a scientific research organisation that blends adventure, social enterprise, and humanitarian aid. ESCAPAID’s first big project took Ben and his trusty Land Rover across 25 African countries and 50,000kms in 14 months from London to Cape Town. In his spare time, Ben is a trustee at Raleigh International, where he co-chairs the youth advisory board with 26 members from 15 countries who connect to the 40,000-strong network of Raleigh alumni, he also mentors the current CEO and contributes to building a long-term development strategy. Ben has devoted his life to championing the voices of the most vulnerable on our planet and continues to be a passionate advocate for innovations that result in a sustainable future for all.


Ben Robinson Project Sahel Ben Robinson by Damian Flack

(Photo of Ben Robinson by Damian Flack)

This scientific research expedition provides a unique opportunity to document the energy lives of displaced peoples across the Sahel (on the southern edge of the Sahara Desert) in order to create critical evidence that can be used directly in policy-making and humanitarian response. In order to maximise the research impact and raise the issue of humanitarian energy access up the international development agenda, we propose our bold and eye-catching expedition. This overland expedition will be the first crossing of the Sahel by vehicle, from the most western to eastern points of Africa, and will tread lightly on unexplored regions increasing the understanding of the Sahel. The expedition will cross the Sahel Region from Senegal to Somalia. The planned route is Senegal, Mali, Burkina Faso, Benin, Nigeria, (Niger or Cameroon) Chad, Sudan, Ethiopia, and Somalia.


The expedition team will produce three short films (one for each focus country) and 100 photographs that will capture the personal stories of the Sahel people and their relationship to energy access. As well as acting as a tool to promote African voices, these short films will be a celebration of the Sahel, its people, culture, and traditions. It is of central importance that this project is driven by African voices, we look to decolonise the narrative that westernised mainstream media portray around this subject - often a negative and victimised one.


The ultimate goal of the expedition is to leave a legacy long beyond its completion, one that provides compelling arguments to change policy across national and international agendas bringing attention to one of the most undocumented regions and most vulnerable populations on our planet.


Project Sahel is seeking project partners and team members, reach out to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. for more information. You can also find out more about Ben and Project Sahel on his websiteYouTube, Instagram, and ESCAPAID.


Expedition Dates: 2023 (actual expedition dates to be confirmed)


SES members and all other participants in SES endorsed expeditions take part at their own risk, and will not hold SES, its trustees, employees, volunteers, partners or agents liable (whether in contract or in tort or in negligence or for breach of statutory duty or otherwise) for any loss, criminal or reputational damage, personal injury, delay or expense suffered or incurred on any such expedition. SES endorses the aims and objectives of these expeditions only.