African nations are fighting climate change with an 8,000 kilometer long Great Green Wall meant to combat the desertification of the Sahel region, home to over 100 million people. Spanning the entire width of the African continent, the movement aims to restore 100 million hectares of degraded land, sequester 250 million tonnes of carbon and create 10 million jobs in rural Africa by 2030. Stretching from Senegal in the West to Djibouti in the East, the project is the joint effort of 21 African nations that strive to restore the once lush region and protect the livelihoods of local communities.
Stretching between the Sahara Desert in the north and the Sudanese steppe in the south, the Sahel region was once a verdant land, but in the last 30 years, the area was severely altered by prolonged droughts due to climate change, over-farming and unsuitable land management, which translated into resource scarcity and mass migration. More than 80 per cent of the region’s land is now degraded, contributing to frequent famine conditions, as most of the population relies on rain-fed agriculture for work.
The Great Green Wall promises to be a real game-changer, providing a brighter future for rural youth in Africa and a chance to revitalise whole communities. It can unite young people around a common, epic ambition: to ‘Grow a 21st Century World Wonder’ across borders and across Africa. - Monique Barbut, Executive Secretary of The United Nations Convention To Combat Desertification
The Great Green Wall movement officially launched in 2007 under the leadership of the African Union, but the idea of a green corridor dates back to the 1970s when the region was affected by successive droughts, which severely degraded the fertile land and generated a cycle of poverty in the area. Today, 21 African nations collaborate on the Great Green Wall, of which 18% is estimated to have been completed. More than 12 million trees have been planted in Senegal, while in Ethiopia, 15 million hectares have been restored. Rainwater harvesting practices and the work of local communities will sustain the green infrastructure. Scientists still debate the climate impact of this massive endeavor.
The Great Green Wall is about development; it’s about sustainable, climate-smart development at all levels - Elvis Paul Tangam, African Union Commissioner for the Sahara and Sahel Great Green Wall Initiative.