20 African countries are working together in an attempt to stem the growth of the Sahara desert by planting a 6,000 mile long Green Wall.
‘The Great Green Wall of Africa’ is Africa’s flagship initiative to combat the effects of climatic change and desertification and after nearly a decade of work, the initiative is starting to bear fruit.
The scheme runs across the Sahel – 6,000 miles stretch of land at the southern edge of Sahara. Up to the 1970s, the region was a green oasis but unsustainable land management, population growth and climate change have degraded the land.
The initial idea of the scheme was to plant a line of trees from east to west through the African desert but that 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.
The scheme is now seen as an example of a programming tool for rural development, and a way to strengthen the resilience of the region’s people and natural systems with sound ecosystem management, the protection of the areas rural history, and the improvement of the living conditions of the local population.
How well has the Great Green Wall worked?
The Great Green Wall was officially launched by 11 countries in 2007. Since then the project has added another 9 countries to plant drought-resistant acacia trees across the Sahel.
While only 15% complete the scheme is now impacting on the participating countries.
In Nigeria 12 million acres of degraded land has been restored. In Senegal 30 million acres of drought-resistant trees have been planted. While Ethiopia boasts a staggering 37 million acres of restored land.
Tree maintenance now provides additional sources of work to those living across the region, and towns and villages have benefited from refilled groundwater wells and additional food supplies.
Once completed the wall should be the largest living structure on the planet, three times the size of the Great Barrier Reef.