African Union Commission and FAO step up support to Great Green Wall initiative
Cooperation agreement signed on the implementation of Action Against Desertification
5 February 2016, Addis Ababa – In an agreement signed today, the African Union Commission (AUC) and the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) have further strengthened their partnership in support of the Great Green Wall initiative, Africa’s flagship initiative to combat land degradation, desertification and drought.
According to the agreement, FAO will support the AUC through a special hub that will provide assistance in coordination, monitoring and evaluation, capacity development, resource mobilization, knowledge management for the implementation of Action Against Desertification, a new project in support of the Great Green Wall initiative.
“Ever since African Heads of State and Government endorsed the Great Green Wall for the Sahara and the Sahel Initiative in 2007, FAO has been at the forefront of the fight against desertification,” said Rhoda Peace Tumusiime, the AUC Commissioner for Rural Economy and Agriculture.
Patrick Kormawa, FAO’s Subregional Coordinator for Eastern Africa and Representative to AUC, said: “The African Union’s leadership has enabled this formidable alliance to which we have set out to contribute with an ambitious agenda of large scale restoration and sustainable land management across the Sahel and Sahara.”
Expanding Africa’s Great Green Wall
Action Against Desertification is an initiative of the African, Caribbean and Pacific Group of States (ACP) to promote sustainable land management and restore drylands and degraded lands in Africa, the Caribbean and the Pacific, implemented by FAO and partners with funding from the European Union in the framework of the 10th European Development Fund (EDF).
The project builds on the Great Green Wall for the Sahara and the Sahel Initiative, in which more than 20 African countries, international organizations, research institutes, civil society and grassroots organizations have come together to tackle the detrimental social, economic and environmental impact of land degradation and desertification.
With a total budget of € 41 million, ACP, the EU, FAO and partners such as the African Union Commission, the Global Mechanism of the UNCCD, the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew and the Walloon region are supporting six African countries - Burkina Faso, Ethiopia, the Gambia, Niger, Nigeria and Senegal – as well as Fiji and Haiti in improving the state and health of production landscapes affected by desertification and land degradation.
Plans for large-scale restoration efforts in West Africa are currently being drawn up by restoration experts from several African countries, using plant-base solutions to increase land productivity, food security, to support livelihoods and income generation for communities and importantly to help mitigate and adapt to future environmental shocks and climate change.
Central to these plans is the restoration approach, which puts communities at the heart of restoration efforts and starts with consulting the communities in order to identify their needs for useful plant species and preferences for restoration in support of their livelihoods.
Scaling up this approach is core to the Great Green Wall vision of building on best practices, which in the case of restoration has already been rolled-out in Mali, Burkina Faso and Niger, where 120 communities have used over two million seeds and seedlings of fifty native species to restore over 2500 hectares of land benefitting some 50 000 people.