The Great Green Wall strives to restore Africa’s Sahel-Saharan region

by Alexander Xia (’24) | February 14, 2022

Art by Ana Gallaga (’25)

Started by the African Union in 2007, the Great Green Wall project is an initiative to grow an 8000 kilometer forest through the Sahel-Sahara region as an effort to fight land degradation and climate change. The initiative boldly promises to restore 100 million hectares of forest, sequester 250 million tons of carbon dioxide, and create 10 million new eco-friendly jobs by 2030. 

Focused on the drought-stricken region between the Saharan desert and the Sudanian Savanna, the project aims to restore land that was once “rich with biodiversity and vegetation,” according to National Geographic. Unfortunately, poor land management and climate change in the area have caused enormous crises, such as the declaration by the United Nations of 20 million people on the verge of starvation in the Horn of Africa in 2017. 

To combat the deterioration of this region, local and national governments in Djibouti, Eritrea, Ethiopia, and other surrounding nations have partnered with the Global Environment Facility and the United Nations to create the Great Green Wall project. 

The project fulfills fifteen out of the seventeen sustainable development goals set by the United Nations, including building resistance to climate change, improving general health and well-being, creating jobs, and boosting local economies. Each country involved has also developed its own goals, such as reducing erosion, diversifying income, improving crop yield, and improving soil fertility.

The participating countries have been working enthusiastically to fulfill these objectives. Ethiopia, for example, has produced an impressive 5.5 billion seedlings and restored over 1 million hectares of land, all while creating over 218,000 new jobs. Furthermore, Senegal has planted over 18 million trees and restored 800,000 hectares, improving the lives of more than 300,000 local residents. 

With African countries already making astounding progress by restoring large amounts of land and creating thousands of new jobs, the Great Green Wall initiative is creating a better future for those in the Sahel-Saharan region and setting a precedent for nations across the world.

Categories: Science

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