Its name is dreamy. Some will think of the Great Wall of China, others a natural barrier. It is actually a multi-species plant belt that aims to cross the African continent from Dakar (West Africa) to Djibouti (on the Horn of Africa), over 7,000 km long and 15 km long. km wide. 14 years after its establishment, what becomes of this project and what is its real impact on the ground?
At the beginning, the ambition was great, the stake was also huge. The Great Green Wall project was initiated by member states of the Inter-State Committee for Drought Control in the Sahel to stop the advance of the desert that threatened and continues to threaten these countries of the Sahel and Sahara. To fight against the desertification which affects the Sahel and its consequences on the local population, 11 African countries (Burkina Faso, Djibouti, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Nigeria, Senegal, Sudan and Chad) decided to raise together, in 2005, this major ecological challenge by launching the “Great Green Wall”
It was 14 years ago. In June 2010, a pan-African agency was even set up to lead the initiative. The main objective is to transform the Saharan and sahelian zone into an opportunity and pole of growth.
Seen from Africa and outside Africa, it arouses curiosity. It represents an ambitious instrument to fight desertification that affects semi-arid areas through the use of large-scale tree plantations. This atypical object, with fuzzy outlines and opaque operation, is perceived by some as a “white elephant” in power, and by others as an innovative environmental solution.
In terms of results, much remains to be done according to the executive secretary of the panafrican agency of the GGW. Of the 11 countries concerned, only Senegal is a little advanced with 545km long and 15 km wide of tracks more than one million woodlots in 14 years.
For the moment, some 40,000 hectares have been reforested on the 817,500 hectares of the Senegalese roads. “With these figures, we say that it’s a never-ending job,” admits Colonel Sarr, the responsible of the project in Senegal. But, in addition to reforestation, there is a whole work of restoration of degraded lands and protection. In the next 20 years, it is hoped that the conditions for the survival of the ecosystem will be brought together. According to the National Agency of the GGW, between 2008 and 2014, 13 000 hectares were put in defense, that is to say that the plantations are prohibited of cut and access to the cattle.
Unlike conventional projects, the Great Green Wall initiative has no deadline.
Find here in pictures of Agency of Great Green Wall, the progress and achievements done by some countries involved in this big project: