Support Initiatives
January 25, 2019

The Great Green Wall: Africa’s ticket to environmental and economic sustainability

Faced with increasing rates of climate change related catastrophes, famine, terrorism, and migration of young individuals and families towards Europe, African nations decided to take matters into their own hands and save their citizens’ future.

Their solution? An 8,000 km wall of trees planted across the entire width of Africa, stretching from Senegal in West Africa all the way to Djibouti in East Africa.

The Great Green Wall initiative was established by 11 African nations along the Sahara Desert border- Djibouti, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Sudan, Chad, Niger, Nigeria, Mali, Burkina Faso, Mauritania, and Senegal, with each country responsible to establish a plan to fund and organize the planting of this natural belt in cooperation with local communities.

The Great Green Wall, 15 percent of which is currently built, aims to stop the expansion of the Sahara desert, restore tens of millions of hectares of degraded land and employment sources, as well as absorb 250 million tons of CO2 from the atmosphere.

Decades of extreme weather conditions- in the form of worsening droughts and land degradation- combined with a steadily rising population explosion in various regions of the Sahara desert have led to severe shortages of farming and employment opportunities and poor access to essential resources. Frustrated and hopeless, many young individuals in the region either turn to extreme terrorist groups or attempt to migrate to Europe for a better future.

Already, the Great Green Wall has managed to tame and reverse some of these adverse phenomena, and spawned positive developments in the region. According to EURACTIV, for instance, “over four million hectares of previously degraded land have been restored with the planting of over 27,000 hectares of indigenous trees” in Senegal. The fruits produced by the trees have also contributed to the emergence of a whole new market along the green wall, which provides employment prospects for young people in the area.

The project has been endorsed by international bodies, such as the European Union and World Bank. At the UN Climate Change Summit in Paris last December, the member nations pledged to contribute $4 billion to the construction of the Great Green Wall.

It seems that as far as construction of walls is concern, the U.S. president should turn to his counterparts in Africa for some urgently needed advice.

As stated in the words of Dr James Wahonye from the University of Nairobi Institute of Diplomacy and International Studies (during an interview for EURACTIV), “The problems in the Sahel should not be treated in isolation. We are in a global village and any threat, especially one of this magnitude, should get the whole world’s attention because it is just a matter of time before it mutates to the rest of the world.”

To sign their petition and pledge your support for the Great Green Wall, please visit their website.

Image credit: Adam Jones/Flickr via EURACTIV

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The Great Green Wall: Africa’s ticket to environmental and economic sustainability