Initiative aims to restore 100 million hectares of land by 2030
Desertification is a major problem worldwide, but in Africa it has been presenting worrying levels. In 2018, it was discovered that the Sahara, the largest desert in the world after Antarctica and the Arctic, had increased by 10% in the last century. This expansion is due to a combination of man-made climate change and natural climate cycles, with most changes occurring along the northern and southern edges of the desert.
The Sahel region (which runs from the southern Sahara belt to the Sudanese savannah), where some of the poorest communities in the world reside, is the one that has suffered the most from this desertification. The region has been experiencing persistent droughts and seeing its natural resources being depleted continuously.
This is where the Great Green Wall comes in, a project that could save an entire
region from ecological collapse.
What is the green wall?
Launched in 2007, this revolutionary initiative aims to restore Africa’s degraded landscapes and transform millions of lives into one of the poorest regions in the world, the Sahel. After being completed, the Green Wall will be the largest living structure on the planet – a natural wonder of the 8,000 km world that stretches across the continent.
The Great Green Wall is now being implemented in more than 20 countries in Africa, extending from east to west, with an investment of more than eight billion dollars. The initiative brings together African countries and international partners, under the leadership of the African Union Commission and the Pan African Agency of the Great Green Wall.
The project has adopted a range of tools to build a vegetation belt across the continent. Although trees are the main focus, other methods are being used to help restore the land, based on the specific biogeographic needs of each area
The Wall is still under construction, but it is already possible to measure the success of the project. Degraded land is being restored at an accelerated rate. This means greater food security for nearby communities.
Nigeria, Senegal, Burkina Faso and Ethiopia have so far seen more significant gains in the Sahel region. More than 17 million trees have been planted in Burkina Faso, Nigeria has seen more than 48,000 square kilometres of degraded land restored, while Senegal and Ethiopia have also achieved similar levels of success.
With the fight against desertification in the area, the regions began to see increased rainfall, as well as more resilient and fertile agricultural spaces.
But the ecological impact is not the only focus of this project, as the scheme also aims to empower and develop the surrounding communities.
By 2030, the initiative aims to restore 100 million hectares of land that is currently degraded, as well as "sequester" 250 million tons of carbon and create 10 million green jobs. All of this will bring even more benefits to the communities that live around the Great Wall.