Great Green Wall
The Great Green Wall. Map by John Kappler, National Geographic

Africa’s Green Wall, the Great Green Wall for the Sahel and Sahara Initiative, is set to receive US$ 16.85 billion following pledges made by international financiers covering the next five years.

The funding is the new phase of the Great Green Wall project which runs across 11 countries and seeks to restore 100 million hectares of degraded land with an aim of creating over 10 million jobs by 2030.

Launched in 2007, the AU-backed project is now in its second decade having so far covered over 18 million hectares of land according to a status report unveiled by the UN Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) in 2020.

The objective of the 7,000-Kilometre Great Green Wall initiative which stretches from Senegal to Djibouti is to stop creeping desertification through a trans-continental mosaic of green, productive landscapes that would fight land degradation and loss of biodiversity.

Current donors to the fund include the African Development Bank (USD 6.5 billion), the World Bank (USD 5 billion) and the European Commission (USD 2.5 billion).

“The timing of this [new] funding is absolutely vital, it signals a ‘build back better’ plan from COVID-19 in a region where a lot of people live off the land and temperatures are rising faster than anywhere else on earth,” said Louise Baker, the managing director of the Global Mechanism of UNCCD.

The UNCCD said that the rapid land degradation in the region over the past 30 years has affected about 80 per cent of the region’s population who rely on rain-fed agriculture for livelihood.

The Green Wall’s target is to rehabilitate 100 million hectares of land even though approximately 4 million hectares of land have so far been rehabilitated under ‘strict intervention zones’.

The program’s assessment shows that between 2007 and 2018, the Wall created over 350,000 jobs and around USD 90 million in revenues.

To reach its target of 100 million hectares of land by 2030, involved countries will need to add on average 8.2 million hectares of restored land to the Great Green Wall every year at an annual financial investment of USD 4.3 billion

The restored area will sequester over 300 tons of carbon dioxide by 2030, which would represent roughly 30 per cent of the envisioned target.

“Financing income-generating activities linked to the land, typically the main asset the poorest people have, is perhaps, the most cost-effective way to pursue peace, security, development and good health,” said Ibrahim Thiaw, executive secretary of the UNCCD.

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