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How a Great Green Wall could help Africa combat climate change

How a Great Green Wall could help Africa combat climate change

The Great Green Wall initiative is a reforestation project that aims to transform the lives of millions living on the frontline of the climate crisis. The goals of this African-led project are to restore 100 million hectares of land, sequester 250 million tonnes of carbon and create 10 million green jobs in rural areas. Once complete, the Great Green Wall will be the largest living structure on the planet, three times the size of the Great Barrier Reef.

The Sahel is a 5,900 kilometer belt of land below the Sahara Desert, stretching across the breadth of Africa. It is a semi-arid region, known for its variable rainfall. The area has some of the world’s highest levels of poverty, and regular droughts and floods lead to shortages of food and drinking water. These in turn lead to humanitarian crises, and to migration.

In the past, efforts to tackle these problems have often been based on simplistic assumptions. Led for the most part by international NGOs and civil society organizations, they have focused on finding financial or technological solutions to the poverty of communities in the area. They have largely ignored the wealth of knowledge that local people have about their natural surroundings.

At their worst, such projects have actually exacerbated the problems. As communities don’t buy in to initiatives that haven’t considered their needs and priorities, many ended as soon as their staff and experts left.

The Great Green Wall (GGW) initiative was initially conceived in 2007 as a reforestation project, which aimed to create a shield of trees to keep the desert at bay. However, it now has much broader and more ambitious goals.

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