Eleven African countries met in a summit in N’Djamena (Chad) on June the 17th 2010 expressed their compromise for the development of the Great Green Wall that should eventually stop the Sahara’s desert advance. This massive green strip will be 7100 km long and 15km wide, tracing a path between Dakar and Djibouti through these countries: Burkina Faso, Djiboute, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Nigeria, Senegal and Chad.
The infertility of the soil is the responsible of a massive food crisis along the Sahel strip, the worse such crisis in 30 years according to some observers. The FAO (Food and Agriculture Organization) estimates that 2 million hectares of green zones disappear every year.
The President of Nigeria proposed to the other countries in the Sahel area (CEN-SAD) the creation of this green strip in order to fight off the desertification and its consequences. At the beginning of 2007 the conference of heads of state and the governments of the African Union adopted this project, giving it the name of ‘The Great Green Wall’.
This vegetation belt will be made of species with resistance to high temperatures and dry conditions, but also will be useful for the local population and be economically profitable. Acacia, jujube, date palm, mango tree … there will be trees but also bushes and plants will cover the soil. This green belt should include the forests that already exist across the line of the project, and these areas will become natural reserves of fauna and flora. The idea is to foster also agriculture societies through this diversity.
Along the green wall there are questions about the relocation of villages when it crosses inhabited areas. The non inhabited areas will be managed by the public services of the respective countries or by private organizations. There are also plans for building water reservoirs, about 80 per country, so the vegetation can survive the dry season.
Objectives and expected results:
- A reduction of the soil erosion
- An impulse to the development and diversification of the agriculture in these areas
- The restoration, conservation and promotion of the biodiversity in fauna and flora
- The improvement of the living standards and well-being of the local population
- Reversing the rural exodus
- Gain control over the water resources
Financing the project:
The international community is following closely the project and the FFEM (French Global Environment Facility) has promised economic help for each of the countries that will have to manage the Great Green Wall. The amount varies according to the countries, between 6,6 million dollars (5,3 million euros) to 23 million dollars (18,7 million euros). The total amount provided by the FFEM will be around 119 million dollars (97 million euros).
During the next 10 years there will be a need of 600 million dollars for the completion of the project. Today, 3 years after the confirmation of the project, only 10.500 hectares have been planted in Senegal plus several hundred in the other countries. This is only a few kilometers …
Related post: The Great Green wall under heavy criticism