Africa and Europe joint efforts to combat desertification

Scope ACP A €1.75 million African Union project, supported by the European Union and FAO, aiming to address desertification, land degradation and drought in the Sahara and Sahel, was launched at the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa in Addis Ababa today. This is an initial contribution to the initiative. More substantial funding is anticipated in the coming years.

The project was developed in support of the Great Green Wall initiative, endorsed by the African Heads of State and Government at their 8th Ordinary Session in Addis Ababa in 2007 to combat desertification by restoring and managing arid zones in the Sahara and Sahel.

A shared vision

The Great Green Wall for the Sahara and Sahel Initiative is an African Union programme which brings together more than 20 countries from the Sahelo-Saharan region, with regional and international organizations, including the African Union Commission, the Pan-African Agency for the great green wall, the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), the Intergovernmental Authority on Development in Eastern Africa (IGAD), The Community of Saharan and Sahelian States (CEN-SAD), the Arab Maghreb Union (UMA), the European Union and the FAO. Other regional and development partners include the Interstate committee for drought control in the Sahel (CILSS), the Sahara and Sahel Observatory (OSS), the Global Mechanism of the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (GM), the World Bank, the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Dry Land Centre, World Agroforestry Centre in Kenya (ICRAF), World Overview of Conservation Approaches and Technologies (WOCAT) and African Forest Forum (AFF).

Promotion of best practices

From the initial vision focusing on tree planting, the Great Green Wall initiative evolved into a more ecologically appropriate and socio-economically sustainable holistic approach, which would be more effective and directly benefit local land and water users through the identification and up scaling of best land management practices.

Priorities for action will vary from country to country, taking into account the socio-economic and environmental circumstances. For some, the priorities include combating sand encroachment, reversing pasture land degradation, restoring degraded land by favouring natural regeneration and re-forestation. While for others the priorities lie with developing the agroforestry sector, developing new harvesting techniques, up scaling sustainable land management practices, including soil and water conservation.

The scope and aim of the project funded by the EU

The African Union project launched today will develop activities in Algeria, Burkina Faso, Egypt, Mauritania, Nigeria, the Gambia, Senegal and the Sudan. Other partner countries include Chad, Djibouti, Ethiopia, Mali and Niger which are being supported through a Technical Cooperation Project (TCP) provided by the FAO.

The thirty-month project received € 1.4 million in funding from the European Union, topped-up with co-financing of over € 350,000 by the Global Mechanism of the UNCCD and FAO. The Commission of the African Union provides in-kind contribution by hosting the project management.

The EU supports the initiative as it addresses the root causes of land degradation and can contribute to poverty alleviation in the long term. Moreover, the initiative involves countries, who have collectively embraced the proposal as a platform to mobilize partnerships with the aim of effecting an environmental and development transformation in the region that will mitigate the risk of desertification and land degradation while at the same alleviating poverty.

The project entitled “Support of the implementation of the Great Green Wall for the Sahara and the Sahel Initiative (GGWSSI)” is developed in the framework of the first Action Plan (2008-2010) of the Africa-EU strategic partnership (under theme 6-Climate change) as well as the Joint Africa-EU strategy Action Plan 2011-2013 adopted in 2010 in Tripoli. The aim of the project is to assist the countries concerned in the development of their national action plans, to support the development of trans-border programs and provide favourable conditions to enable the implementation of action plans that will be developed.

It will focus on capacity development for the planning and implementation of best practices at local level and international levels, establishing a networking platform for knowledge sharing and technology transfer, developing a harmonized strategy for the Great Green Wall initiative and setting up a platform for partnership and resource mobilization.

Further information

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