France, bodies pledge $4b for Africa’s Great Green Wall project

The project addresses desertification, enhances natural resource management and promotes ecosystem integrity in the dryland in the Northern parts of Nigeria. The programme covers about 11 states, namely Kebbi, Zamfara, Gombe, Yobe, Jigawa, Adamawa, Bauchi, Katsina, Borno, Sokoto and Kano

IN a fresh move to restore the productivity of degraded lands in Africa and transform millions of lives, France, other leaders and heads of development agencies have pledged  $4 billion over the next five years to step up implementation of the Great Green Wall for the Sahara and Sahel Initiative (GGWSSI).

The renewed commitments was made during a ministerial meeting at the climate change summit by global leaders and heads of development partners from the Government of France, African Development Bank (ADB), Global Environment Facility (GEF), World Bank, and European Union (EU) as well as the African leaders.

Nigeria’s Minister of Environment, and the UN Secretary-General’s Special Advisor on Post-2015 Development Planning, Mrs. Amina Mohammed also attended.

The Great Green Wall – originally launched in 2007 – is taking root in Africa’s Sahel region, one of the world’s most vulnerable areas to climatic variability.

The initiative spearheaded by African heads of State, stretches about 7,000 from Senegal in the west to Djibouti in the east and about 15 Kilometres wide as it traverses the continent, passing through Mauritania, Mali, Burkina Faso, Niger, Nigeria, Chad, Sudan, Ethiopia and Eritrea.

Persistent drought and land degradation in the Sahel are robbing land-dependent families of their livelihoods. Poverty, conflict over depleting natural resources, and increasingly, mass migration to Europe are rife. More than 20 million people in the Sahel are currently food insecure, according to the UN Office for Humanitarian Affairs.

The GGWSSI brings together African countries and international partners including United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification, the Food and Agriculture Organization, and EU under the leadership the African Union Commission.

Under the new programme, over the next 10 years, more than 50 million hectares of land will be restored, which will help sequester an estimated 250 million tons of carbon. The metaphoric Great Green Wall will provide sustainable alternatives for millions of young people considering migrating from poverty- stricken areas in Africa’s Sahel region.

In Nigeria, the project addresses desertification, enhance natural resource management and promote ecosystem integrity in the dryland in the Northern parts of the Country.

It stretches from Zamfara and Kebbi States In the North West corner along the northern border of Nigeria to the extreme eastern border in Borno State.  The programme covers about 11 states, namely Kebbi, Zamfara, Gombe, Yobe, Jigawa, Adamawa, Bauchi, Katsina, Borno, Sokoto and Kano.

The Federal government had also established an interim office of the National Agency for the Great Green Wall last year, and appointed an acting director general for the agency. In Nigeria, the objective of the programme is to generate employment for about 52,000 people.

Nigerian Minister of Environment, noted at the meeting that the days of thinking in silos are gone and that there is a need for holistic and horizontal ways of can reducing the impact of future climate-induced disasters.
“There are many world wonders, but the Great Green Wall will be unique and everyone can be a part of its history. Together, we can change the future of African communities in the Sahel,” says Dr. Dlamini Zuma, Chairperson, African Union Commission.

Vice President for Sustainable Development, World Bank, Laura Tuck said that land degradation does not have to be inevitable. She announced that the World Bank intends to allocate $1.9 billion million to GGWSSI projects and other climate change initiatives.

President, African Development Bank (AfDB), Akinwumi Adesina, who moderated the session, argued that there is a link between environmental degradation, loss of livelihoods and migration. He said that unless policymakers can light up and power Africa with energy then all the trees that are planted will be cut down for charcoal.

And Team Leader for Disaster Risk Reduction and Climate Change, UN Development Programme (UNDP), Aliou Dia, UNDP will scale up its interventions in all the GGWSSI countries while Deputy Head of Unit, Climate Change, Environment and Natural Resources, EU Commission, Jose Soler-Carbo is optimistic that the project cannot fail, added, EU has been supporting the project for many years.


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