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The Great Green Wall Initiative: Visions of Reality and of Restoring Hope

Dr. Lakshmi Unnithan
Dr. Lakshmi Unnithan

The Sahel is one of the areas of the World most harshly affected by land degradation and is exposed to multiple factors of environmental stress and sociopolitical stress. The Great Green Wall Initiative was launched in 2007 by the African Union to combat desertification across the Africa’s degraded landscapes and transform millions of lives in one of the world’s poorest regions, the Sahel. Planting 8,000 kilometers (4,970 miles) of trees and vegetation across the Sahel, the semi-arid area that stretches the entire width of the continent, just below the Sahara desert is a dream to be achieved. 

The Great Green Wall is now being implemented in more than 20 countries across Africa and more than eight billion dollars have been mobilized and pledged for its support. The initiative brings together African countries and international partners, under the leadership of the African Union Commission and Pan-African Agency of the Great Green Wall. 

Its objectives are to restore 100 million hectares of currently degraded land, sequester 20 million tons of carbon and create 10 million jobs. 

Since its launch in 2007, major progress has been made in restoring the fertility of Sahelian lands. Key examples include: 

  • Ethiopia: 15 million hectares of degraded land restored, land tenure security improved

  • Senegal: 11.4 million trees planted, 25 000 hectares of degraded land restored

  • Nigeria: 5 million hectares of degraded land restored and 20 000 jobs created

  • Sudan: 2,000 hectares of land restored

  • Burkina Faso, Mali, Niger: about 120 communities involved, a green belt created over more than 2,500 hectares of degraded and drylands, more than two million seeds and seedlings planted from fifty native species of trees

The UNCCD has launched many public awareness campaigns on the Great Green Wall and one such was the documentary titled Great Green Wall documentary produced in collaboration with an Oscar nominated filmmaker Fernando Meirelles and Malian singer Inna Modja. The documentary throws light on one of the ambitious project of the Human Race. Screened on Sep 12, at UNCCD COP14, it was an absolute eye-opener to the severity of the problems faced by the Sahel Region.  

A bold and visually entertaining, musical journey, which makes way through many countries across the Sahel region. The documentary focuses on the Malian Singer Inna Modja travelling across the Sahel Region, covering   Countries like Senegal, Mali, Nigeria and Ethiopia. Her journey is interspersed with music and meeting of various activists, singers, farmers to highlight the issues each region is facing. Great Green Wall Documentary highlights many issues like desertification, drought, conflict, radicalization, poverty, migration and hope. Internationally acclaimed Tim Craigg’s Cinematography made a visually beautiful journey into the Sahel. Green Green Wall is a vision born out of hardship. 

Lake Chad is historically large, shallow lake in Africa that has varied in size over the centuries. Lake Chad is economically important, providing to more than 30 million people living in the four countries surrounding it .Lake Chad has had a big influence on the political insurgency in the African region. The shrinking of the lake has also caused several different conflicts over the rights of the remaining water.  Our wealth is water says the Farmer Abu Hawi from Tigray Ethiopia. No water is wasted here. For people it must be about planting of trees but an act that could be accountable for future generations. An act for revitalizing the ecosystem with limited resources, Africa a nation where climate change is the main reason for Child marriages . We are the cross roads already where 60 million people could migrate by 2045.The African region is a best example of Resilience and Hope. 

This documentary is an honest  effort as it could be in putting before the World that there is still hope and millions are waiting at the threshold to be saved for better future and it’s the responsibility of the partnership of the Global countries to save the region and to be at the heart of their development actions. 

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