The Great Green Wall for the Sahara and the Sahel Initiative

The Great Green Wall for the Sahara and the Sahel Initiative

Improving resilience to climate change, land degradation and drought

The Green Wall should be seen as a metaphor for the coordination of a variety of international projects, for economic development, environmental protection, against desertification and to support political stability in the heart of Africa.

Boubacar Cissé, Africa Coordinator, UN Convention to Combat Desertification Secretariat

CONTEXT

Human pressure on ecosystems, deforestation and soil exhaustion in Africa’s drylands threaten a way of life that is heavily dependent on agriculture, livestock and rainfall. The region is also vulnerable to adverse effects of climate change including decreased rainfall and extreme weather conditions. The Great Green Wall Initiative promotes the sustainable management and use of forests, rangelands and other natural resources. It covers activities in over 20 countries supporting sustainable, income-generating land management practices.

OBJECTIVES

  • Improve living conditions in arid zones of Africa and reduce their vulnerability to climate change, climate variability and drought;
  • Improve and boost resilience of their ecosystems;
  • Mobilise resources through national, regional and international partnerships.

RESULTS

  • Formulation and adoption of a regional harmonised strategy for GGWSSI;
  • Development and adoption of 8 National Action Plans;
  • Nine concepts identified for cross-border projects, and another under development;
  • Pilot projects for capacity-building in Burkina Faso, Niger and Mali; launch of an ecotourism project in Senegal; two workshops on building resilient forest landscapes in drylands;
  • Capacity-development strategy elaborated and workshops held on resource mobilisation;
  • Building of a learning and networking platform for knowledge, technology transfer and partnership-building;
  • Approval of follow-up projects (with FAO and GM-UNCCD) for promoting civil society and local authority involvement in 10 francophone countries; and for boosting resilience in fragile ecosystems in ACP countries.

FACTS AND FIGURES

  • From the initial idea of a line of trees crossing the African desert, the Great Green Wall now covers a range of initiatives across over 20 countries supporting sustainable, income-generating land management practices.
  • The Support to the Great Green Wall project is succeeded by two related projects: 'FLEUVE: Front Local Environnemental pour une Union Verte', supporting activities in five countries, and 'Action Against Desertification', in eight others.

TESTIMONY

Benefits for farmers - and for wildlife

Rebuilding the Great Green Wall in Senegal started in 2009, and the dusty scrubland of Tessékeré, a 600-hectare pilot site in the north of the country, is now dotted with acacia trees. As a source of gum, extracted from the bark, these trees are more valuable standing than felled. They also provide shade, meaning the ground loses less water to evaporation. The GGWSSI educates local farmers and supplies them with resilient seeds, technical assistance and a forum to share information with other villages. Restoration has brought other benefits too, as Elimane Diop, Chief Lieutenant of the nearby village of Widou explains: “Wildlife has returned to the site. We have seen antelope, hyena, porcupine and guinea fowl here.”