2 March 2021 | Reading 6 mins.

The Great Green Wall: Africa’s answer to desertification

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Dr. Elvis Paul N. Tangem
Coordinator of GGWSSI for the Africa Union

Dr. Elvis Paul N. Tangem, Coordinator of GGWSSI for the Africa Union

In the aftermath of the multi-billion euro commitment from France and others to support the expansion and completion of the Great Green Wall for the Sahara and the Sahel Initiative (GGWSSI), REVOLVE talked with Dr. Elvis Paul N. Tangem who helped shed light on the magnitude of this initiative.

Officially launched in 2007, the Great Green Wall concept envisioned a tree-shrub-plant vegetation barrier or band across Africa. In the last 14 years the project has evolved, taking on an integrated ecosystem management approach, striving for a mosaic of different land use and production systems. How did this evolution come about? What are the opportunities and challenges associated with this evolution?

The Great Green Wall is a symbol of hope in the face of one of the biggest challenges of our time – desertification. Launched in 2007 by the African Union, the initiative aims to restore Africa’s degraded landscapes and promotes sustainable land management and ecosystem restoration of Africa’s drylands, transforming the lives of over 250 million people in the Sahel, Sahara, Horn of Africa and other drylands. Once complete, the Wall will be the largest living structure on the planet – 8,000 km (long) x 17 km (wide), stretching across the entire continent. The Great Green Wall is now being implemented in more than 21 countries across Africa and more than 100 billion dollars have been mobilized and pledged for its support. The initiative brings together African countries, institutions, and international partners, under the leadership of the African Union Commission. In 2015, the Africa Union Commission initiated the extension of the initiative to the drylands of the southern African region, including the Kalahari and Namib deserts as well as the Miombo Region.

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