The Great Green Wall, or Great Green Wall of the Sahara and the Sahel (French: Grande Muraille Verte pour le Sahara et le Sahel), is Africa's flagship initiative to combat the effects of climatic change and desertification. Led by the African Union, the initiative aims to transform the lives of millions of people by creating a mosaic of green and productive landscapes across North Africa.
From the initial idea of a line of trees from east to west bordering the African desert, the vision of a Great Green Wall has evolved into that of a mosaic of interventions addressing the challenges facing the people in the Sahel and the Sahara. As a programming tool for rural development, the overall goal of this partnership is to strengthen regional resilience and natural systems with sound ecosystem management, protection of rural heritage, and improved living conditions.
The project is a response to the combined effect of natural resources degradation and drought in rural areas. It is a partnership that supports communities working towards sustainable management and use of forests, rangelands and other natural resources. It seeks to help communities mitigate and adapt to climate change, as well as improve food security.
The Sahel’s population is expected to double by 2039, adding urgency to the project.
During an expedition to the Sahara in 1954 Richard St. Barbe Baker proposed a ‘Green front’ to act as a 30 mile deep tree buffer to contain the expanding desert. The idea re-emerged in 2002, at the special summit in N'Djamena, Chad on the occasion of World Day to Combat Desertification and Drought. It was approved by the Conference of Leaders and Heads of States members of the Community of Sahel-Saharan States during their seventh ordinary session held in Ouagadougou on June 1-2, 2005. The African Union endorsed it in 2007 as the ‘Great Green Wall for the Sahara and the Sahel Initiative’ (GGWSSI).
Lessons learned from the Algerian Green Dam and the Green Wall of China led to an integrated multi-sectoral approach. Originally a tree planting initiative, the project evolved into a development programming tool. In 2007, CHSG directed the project to tackle the social, economic and environmental impacts of land degradation and desertification.
A harmonized regional strategy was adopted in September 2012 by the African Ministerial Conference on Environment (AMCEN). According to AMCEN, the Great Green Wall is a flagship program that will contribute to the goal of the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development, or RIO+20, of "a land degradation neutral world".
In 2014, the European Union and the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization, in collaboration with African and other regional partners, launched the Action Against Desertification program to build on the GGWSSI. Nigeria created an interim agency to support GGW development.
Drylands Monitoring Week (2015) assessed the state of dryland measurement and initiated collaboration toward large-scale, comprehensive monitoring.
Bare land restoration has been successfully demonstrated in Burkina Faso, although security is an issue in the face of terrorist activity.
The Initiative brings together more than 20 countries, including Algeria, Burkina Faso, Benin, Chad, Cape Verde, Djibouti, Egypt, Ethiopia, Libya, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Nigeria, Senegal, Somalia, Sudan, the Gambia and Tunisia.
Regional and international partners include:
The GGWSSI intends to strengthen existing mechanisms (such as Comprehensive African Agricultural Development Program, Environmental Program (CAADP) of NEPAD, regional, sub-regional, and national action programs to combat desertification) to improve their efficiency through synergy and coordination activities.
The Regional Harmonised Strategy emphasizes partnerships between stakeholders, integration into existing programs, sharing of lessons learned (especially through South-South cooperation and technology transfer), local participation and ownership of actions and developing more integrated and global planning.
The $8-billion project intends to restore 100 million hectares of degraded land by 2030, which would create 350,000 rural jobs and absorb 250 million tons of CO
2 from the atmosphere.
Ecosia reports having planted 5,531,042+ trees as of 25 July 2018, mostly in Burkina Faso, though no other source for this can be found. In September 2017, the BBC reported that progress was best in Senegal. As of March 2019, 15% of the wall is complete with significant gains made in Nigeria, Senegal and Ethiopia. In Senegal, over 11 million trees had been planted. Nigeria has restored 12 million acres of degraded land and Ethiopia has reclaimed 37 million acres.
The Federal Government has approved the establishment of the Interim Office of the National Agency for the Great Green Wall, GGW.
Now, the soil takes up enough water again and crops are growing. “This plot has been restored,” Sawadogo says.
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