World Desertification Day, “Rising up from drought together”


 Mrs Ndeye Fatou MAR


  Mrs Ndeye Fatou MAR
  Land Department Coordinator,
  Sahara and Sahel Observatory


The Great Green Wall Initiative (GGWI) is one of the most important pan-African programs to combat land degradation in the Sahara and the Sahel. It was launched in 2007 by the African Union and has evolved over the years to become a regional sustainable development program that would now consider food security and resilience to climate change.

Drawing conclusions from the past green belts and dams and their limited results and besides planting trees along the 7000km corridor, the GGWI brings together sustainable land use and community management practices under what is commonly known as a “patchwork of actions”.

The Pan-African Agency of the Great Green Wall (PAGGW) regroups a number of African countries and especially 11 from the Sahelian strip. The initiative aims to implement urgent and nature-based solutions, to contend with the disastrous effects of land degradation, desertification, and drought.

However, the achieved results make it clear that there is still much work to do for the proper implementation of the initiative. In 2021, the financial partners that took part in the "One Planet" summit, had promised a 19 billion dollar budget for the 2020-2025 period, including no less than 3 billion dollars forland restoration and the sustainable management of ecosystems. Despite all these commitments, the achievements are sadly lagging behind.

We all have to remember the expectations of the African populations with regard to restoring the 250 million hectares of degraded land by 2030 and the creation of 10 million jobs. The promise has reached the 2020-2025 halfway point, but no money has arrived yet and the mobilization is below the aspirations.

The Sahara and Sahel Observatory has engaged very early in the definition of the Great Green Wall concept and has always stood up for the Initiative. It still makes every effort to support its Sahelian and Saharan member countries to achieve their objectives under the GGW. Indeed, the organization strives to build the material and human capacities of local stakeholders and goes in search of funding for relevant projects that would meet the expectations of the population.

Today, the OSS has to take on one of the biggest challenges and make sure the promised funds reach the direct beneficiaries, in particular the local populations and the ecosystems, where the expected impacts must be seen and felt. In partnership with its African peers, the organization is determined to ask for the respect of the commitments of the partners for the benefit of the current and future generations living in one of the most vulnerable regions in the world.

Recently, the OSS took its participation in the UNCCD COP15, an annual international meeting on the fight against desertification, to restate its commitment to supporting countries and facilitating their access to climate finance. During the Great Green Wall Day, which was held in Abidjan on May 18, the OSS Executive Secretary stated that « We need to create a harmonized environment that is suitable for a common endeavor so that the Great Green Wall takes full advantage of a better synergy of actions ». The GGW is a dream that has to come true. We must bring it to life. The salvation of millions of people lies within ».

During the international conference on "African ecosystems, key tool for the development of the African continent", organized on June 8-9, 2022, in Tunis, as a celebration of the 30th anniversary of the Sahara and Sahel Observatory, the participants called upon all GGW stakeholders and technical and financial partners to engage in a management accountability framework based on the Great Green Wall objectives and expected results.

Today, the GGW is one of the main initiatives providing real answers for the Sahel, one of the regions most affected by land degradation in the world. Not only does it aim to restore land and mitigate the drought effects, but also to improve the living conditions of millions of people and reinforce their adaptation to climate change. 

"Raising up from drought together" is the campaign slogan of the 2022 World Day to Combat Desertification and Drought. 

Let’s take the GGW opportunity to meet this challenge for the Sahel.

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