The combined effect of land degradation, overexploitation, deforestation and climate change, confronts the Sahel with a rapid advance of the desert. It was to curb this threat that the Great Green Wall project was launched.
On one side the Sahara, an immense expanse of stones and sand extending over 5000 km from the Atlantic Ocean to the Red Sea and covering an area of 8.5 million km². A dry environment hostile to plant and animal life, despite the presence of some oases near the rare water points. On the other, the Sahel, which is home to 300 million women, men and children whose lives and means of subsistence are highly dependent on what nature has to offer them: water, arable land, biodiversity, etc.
What could have been a simple story of neighborhood between two geographical areas could, if left unchecked, become the story of an expanding desert. Indeed, it is estimated that the Sahara has progressed 250 km since 1900. A serious threat to the preservation of biodiversity and livelihoods, desertification has considerable ecological and socio-economic consequences. The Great Green Wall was created with the objective of stemming this threat.
Symbol of the solidarity of African peoples
Initiated in 2007 by the African Union with the support of development actors such as the United Nations, the Great Green Wall project should serve as a bulwark against desertification and offer improved living conditions to populations. Ultimately, this construction should extend over 8,000 km in length and 15 km in width and cross 12 countries. The trees used were chosen for their resistance to low rainfall and their economic yield. One can quote among others, the acacia, the date palm and the jujube tree. However, the initiative goes beyond reforestation and includes the development of areas dedicated to agriculture, as well as the creation of water retention basins. So far, 15% of the overall reforestation targets have been achieved.
In a region highly vulnerable to climate change, the environmental benefits of this project are vital. Indeed, by 2030, reforestation activity should restore 100 million hectares of land and absorb 250 million tonnes of carbon, thus helping to reduce the amount of greenhouse gases released into the land. atmosphere. In addition, the project is expected to promote economic activities such as agriculture, strengthen food security, increase economic growth and allow the creation of 10 million green jobs. To help preserve this gem from the destructive effects of deforestation, the UN is encouraging solar power projects in the region.
The Great Green Wall is a magnificent symbol of the unity and cooperation of the African peoples who join their efforts to preserve nature and life.