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HomeTech-TipGet Africa’s Great Green Wall back on track

Get Africa’s Great Green Wall back on track

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Africa’s Great Green Wall, a plan to restore 7,000 km of degraded land from Senegal in West Africa to Djibouti in the east, is a bold and ambitious idea aimed at helping combat drought and desertification, which is currently affecting the region. 45% of Africa’s land area.

Proposed 13 years ago by two of the continent’s top politicians, then-President of Nigeria, Olusegun Obasanjo and former Senegalese President Abdoulaye Wade, it is even more important now, given the threat from climate change and the continent’s people’s dependence on agriculture for their livelihoods. Happened.

But, as of now, the project is struggling to reach key goals. Less than one-fifth of the designated land area has been restored or rehabilitated. The African Union’s top decision-makers do not see the green wall as a priority, and international donors seem reluctant to seek further funding. Researchers, governments and international agencies must work together to rehabilitate this important scheme.

The focus of the project has widened from the vision of its founders as there are more ways to restore degraded land than redistribute, such as creating communal gardens and nature reserves. But adding these and other measures has made the green wall more complicated. It requires different ministries in different countries to work together.

It is always difficult, but it becomes even more so when two more variables are added: the African Union and the international donor community. These and other observations are confirmed in an independent evaluation of the project, commissioned by the project’s partners and published by the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) in September.

The valuation report tries to look on the bright side. It says that 11 countries with a green wall have rehabilitated nearly 4 million hectares of land and created 350,000 jobs in the process. It also reaffirms that a broad group of 21 African countries are committed to restoring and rehabilitating 100 million hectares of land by 2030, creating 10 million green jobs.

But this is not the sugar-coat of the fact that governments and donors will need to find between US$3.6 billion and $4.3 billion each year for the next decade if the 100 million hectare target is to be achieved. That would be a tall order—the report calls it a “quantum leap”—given that the project raised nearly $2 billion in its first decade. But it’s not impossible—and there are many important ways researchers can contribute.

The UNCCD report provides headline information on each country’s progress – such as the number of plants and plants produced; area of ​​forested land; and the number of people trained and the jobs created. Most of this data was provided by each country. The next step should be for independent researchers – for example, members of the IPBES (Intergovernmental Science-Policy Forum on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services) – to assess these data and publish their reviews, with all parties to the data. To help put more trust in and in the monitoring process.

Funding is always a challenge in such projects. But although it may seem possible that the 55 member states of the African Union and their international partners could raise the necessary amount, nations have already committed to funding international initiatives with goals similar to those of the Green Wall is.

For example, African countries are signatories to the Aichi Biodiversity Goals, which include the goal of reducing habitat loss and degradation. The countries have also signed on to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, which include the goal of combating desertification and restoring degraded lands and soils. And they are also members of the UNCCD, which has pledged to reach “land degradation neutrality” by 2030.

The UNCCD report suggests that a single trust fund could be the answer. This will only work if countries and international agencies agree to pool their resources and create harmonized reporting requirements. Researchers can help here by developing a method to measure whether countries are succeeding in meeting their green-wall goals, as well as providing a common accounting framework.

There is an urgent need to restore and rehabilitate the land. The people of the affected countries are among the poorest people in the world. The overwhelming majority make their living from agriculture or livestock production. Climate change is projected to increase the mean temperature by 3–6 °C by the end of the century, compared to the baseline for the second half of the twentieth century. More extreme weather is expected, and these, in turn, will reduce crop yields.

The Green-Wall project needs international agencies to better collaborate, it needs the help of researchers, and it needs to play a more visible role in leading the continent’s current generation of leaders forward and championing it, as That was done by its two founding presidents.

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