Bringing hope to Africa’s Sahel through the Great Green Wall Initiative
In support of the GGW initiative, The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) is executing a project titled ‘closing the gaps in the Great Green Wall’, which is funded by GEF and implemented by UN Environment, in 11 countries. The project is already bringing relief to communities in the Sahel and Djibouti is one great example.
Photo: Ibrahim Thiaw
Photo: Ibrahim Thiaw
By Chris Magero and Abdoulfatah Abdourahman Arab
The Sahel spans over 7 million square kilometers across 11 countries with an estimated population of close to 135 million people who are largely dependent on livestock and crop farming. Land degradation is however undermining the wellbeing and productivity of the population. Much of land degradation in the Sahel is stemming from poor land management practices coupled with extreme climatic factors which cause drought and floods, negatively impacting on Sahelian livelihoods.
The Great Green Wall (GGW) - Sahara Sahel Initiative is a pan-African initiative that arose with a vision of working together with multiple stakeholders including governments, civil society organizations and private sector to restore tackle poverty, desertification and land degradation in the Sahel region
In support of the GGW initiative, The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) is executing a project titled ‘closing the gaps in the Great Green Wall’, which is funded by GEF and implemented by UN Environment, in 11 countries. The project which focuses on strengthening the participation of stakeholders including pastoralist and local communities and mobilization of investments to enable large scale sustainable land management across the Sahel is already bringing relief to communities in the Sahel.
Great strides in restoring landscapes in Djibouti
Djibouti is a country on the east coast of Africa with a land surface area of approximately 23,300 Km2 and a population of 800,000 people. 17% of Djibouti’s land area is documented to be undergoing some degradation largely driven by agricultural expansion and climate change. This has far reaching consequences on the agro pastoralist communities and threatens to undermine their progress towards achieving the SDGs.
Since 2017, the country has rolled out 3 multi-sectoral projects focusing on land restoration, conservation and sustainable management of natural resources and facilitation of sustainable access to microfinancing. By 2018, the country had managed to restore 100 hectares of land with more areas under consideration for restoration through reforestation.
Djibouti’s investment in the Great Green Wall is among the key strategies of responding to these challenges at the national level
In Bara plains (Djibouti), investments in water security have secured an average income of USD 1400 per household for communities involved in agro-pastoralism. A water storage reservoir constructed in Kourtimaley is providing multiple benefits to communities including securing water for people and livestock in the dry season, providing irrigation water for agro-pastoral production.
Innovations through Nature Based Solutions
“Despite the great commitment by countries and progress made towards the Great Green Wall, challenges such as persistent land degradation, lack of a common framework to monitor progress across the Sahel countries and lack of effective participation of GGW stakeholders among others need to be addressed. Land restoration in drylands countries such as Djibouti needs a multifaceted response from all sectors and investment in infrastructure and markets,” says Chris Magero, Programme Officer for the Global Ecosystems Management Programme at IUCN
“Interventions in the Sahel should seek to address these gaps by coming up with innovations around sustainable land management, market access and livelihood development, through the application of Nature Based Solution,” added Chris.