How the UN is Holding Back the Sahara Desert with a Green Wall [2024]

How the UN is Holding Back the Sahara Desert with a Green Wall : The Sahara Desert is the largest hot desert in the world, covering about 9 million square kilometers of North Africa. It is also one of the fastest-growing deserts, expanding by about 10% in the past century due to climate change and human activities. This expansion threatens the livelihoods and food security of millions of people living in the Sahel, the dryland region that borders the Sahara to the south.

How the UN is Holding Back the Sahara Desert

To combat this problem, the UN is leading an ambitious project called the Great Green Wall Initiative (GGWI), which aims to restore 100 million hectares of degraded land, sequester 250 million tons of carbon, and create 10 million green jobs in rural areas by 2030. The GGWI envisions a mosaic of farms, forests, and wilderness, where ecosystems are restored and water is conserved, along an 8,000 km long and 15 km wide strip of land across 11 African countries.

How the UN is Holding Back the Sahara Desert with a Green Wall

What is the Great Green Wall and how does it work?

The Great Green Wall is not a literal wall of trees, but rather a metaphor for a holistic approach to land restoration and sustainable development. It involves a variety of practices, such as:

  • Reforestation and afforestation: planting native trees and shrubs to increase vegetation cover, biodiversity, and soil fertility.
  • Agroforestry: integrating trees and crops on the same land to improve productivity, resilience, and income.
  • Water harvesting: capturing and storing rainwater for irrigation, drinking, and sanitation.
  • Soil conservation: preventing erosion and improving soil quality through techniques such as terracing, mulching, and composting.
  • Dune stabilization: fixing sand dunes with vegetation or fences to prevent them from moving and burying fertile land.
  • Community empowerment: involving local people in the planning, implementation, and monitoring of the project, and providing them with training, education, and access to markets.

The Great Green Wall is not a top-down, one-size-fits-all solution, but rather a bottom-up, context-specific, and adaptive one. It takes into account the different needs, challenges, and opportunities of each country and community, and allows them to choose the best practices for their situation.

What are the benefits of the Great Green Wall?

The Great Green Wall has multiple benefits for the environment, the economy, and the society of the Sahel region and beyond. Some of these benefits are:

  • Environmental benefits: The Great Green Wall helps to combat desertification, land degradation, and climate change by restoring natural ecosystems, increasing vegetation cover, enhancing carbon sequestration, and reducing greenhouse gas emissions. It also helps to conserve water resources, protect biodiversity, and prevent natural disasters such as droughts and floods.
  • Economic benefits: The Great Green Wall boosts food security, income, and employment by improving agricultural productivity, diversifying livelihoods, and creating green jobs. It also fosters regional integration, trade, and cooperation by connecting countries and communities through a shared vision and a common goal.
  • Social benefits: The Great Green Wall improves health, education, and gender equality by providing access to clean water, sanitation, nutrition, and health services. It also reduces conflict, migration, and poverty by addressing the root causes of these problems, such as resource scarcity, inequality, and marginalization.

What are the challenges and opportunities of the Great Green Wall?

The Great Green Wall is a visionary and ambitious project that faces many challenges and opportunities. Some of these are:

  • Challenges: The Great Green Wall requires a huge amount of financial, technical, and human resources, as well as political will and commitment from all stakeholders. It also faces various environmental, social, and economic risks, such as climate variability, pests and diseases, land tenure issues, and market fluctuations. Moreover, it needs to overcome the barriers of coordination, communication, and monitoring among the different actors and sectors involved.
  • Opportunities: The Great Green Wall offers a unique opportunity to transform the Sahel region and the lives of its people. It is a catalyst for innovation, collaboration, and learning, as well as a platform for showcasing best practices and success stories. It is also a model for other regions and continents facing similar challenges of desertification, land degradation, and climate change.

How can you support the Great Green Wall?

The Great Green Wall is a global project that needs the support and participation of everyone. You can support the Great Green Wall by:

  • Learning more about the project and its impact on the website of the Great Green Wall or the UN Convention to Combat Desertification.
  • Spreading the word and raising awareness about the project and its importance among your friends, family, and networks.
  • Donating to the project or its partners through the Great Green Wall Fund or other platforms.
  • Volunteering or working for the project or its partners through various opportunities and programs.
  • Visiting or traveling to the Sahel region and witnessing the project and its progress firsthand.

The Great Green Wall is a bold and inspiring initiative that aims to hold back the Sahara Desert and create a greener and more prosperous future for the Sahel region and the world. By supporting the Great Green Wall, you are not only helping to restore degraded land and fight desertification, but also to improve the lives and livelihoods of millions of people. Join the movement and be part of the change!

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