The Great Green Wall of Africa
Though a border wall with Mexico is currently a matter of serious discussion in the United States, the aim of which is to prevent the physical movement of people (with few other apparent “benefits”), some walls can actually bring together and preserve communities, rather than divide them.
In only five years, the UN says, around 60 million Africans may be displaced as their land ceases to be arable, a potential humanitarian disaster the scale of which would be unprecedented. This would be devastating to a huge portion of the African continent not only ecologically and economically but socially as well.
That’s where Africa’s ingenious Great Green Wall comes in.
Experts at the United Nations say without action, desertification may claim two-thirds of Africa’s farmlands in under a decade. The Great Green Wall, however, was conceived as a wide-reaching strategy to halt Northern Africa’s rapidly advancing Sahara Desert.
The Great Green Wall, once complete, will stretch an incredible 4,400 miles from Senegal in West Africa to the East African nation of Djibouti. Instead of bricks and mortar, the wall will be made of trees and other vegetation, including plants that can be eaten or used to create medicine.
Originally proposed in 2005 by Nigeria and adopted by the African Union in 2007, the massive undertaking is now approximately 15 percent complete. So far, Senegal has done the most to lead the initiative, however villages in Niger, Mali and Burkina Faso have made contributions as well.
For Africa’s transcontinental Great Green Wall project, preserving essential farmlands and ecosystems are only a few of the anticipated benefits. According to UN Convention to Combat Desertification’s Camila Nordheim-Larsen, the wall “is about more than just planting and counting trees.”
Nordheim-Larsen believes the wall will provide numerous communities new paths to “building resilience.” Reinforcing communities to be further sustainable while providing its youth the means to live and provide for themselves is crucial, she says.
If young people have access to economic opportunities, they will be less inclined to abandon their communities. Not only that, but it means fewer young, disaffected young men looking for meaning and belonging — the exact demographic that violent militant groups like Nigeria’s Boko Haram target to find new recruits.
According to the Global Environment Facility, a group sponsoring many of the individual projects encompassed by the Great Green Wall initiative, the nations of Sahel Africa make around 40 percent of their GDP from agriculture and husbandry — activities increasingly impacted by desertification.
Continue reading at ENN affiliate, Care2.
Photo Credit: YouTube