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Action Against Desertification to restore 18 000 hectares of degraded land along Africa’s Great Green Wall in 2018

01/12/2017

Evaluation and planning workshop on AAD’s restoration and communication activities

22 November 2017, Rome/Niamey – Action Against Desertification (AAD) plans to restore 18 000 hectares of degraded lands in ten African countries to support the expansion of Africa’s Great Green Wall in 2018.

This is the main outcome of a workshop held in Niger from 13 to 17 November, bringing together some 70 experts from 12 African countries, including representatives of governments and partner organisations, the scientific community and field-level practitioners, to discuss the best way to carry on AAD’s restoration activities along Africa’s Great Green Wall (GGW).  

“Planning our activities will enable us to better help the people of Africa’s drylands - to restore degraded land, strengthen resilience to climate change and promote sustainable development, while improving people’s food and nutrition security,” said Luc Genot, FAO’s representative ad interim in Niger.

The participants went out to see some of AAD’s initial achievements for themselves in Tera, 200 km north-west of the capital Niamey, where degraded land is made productive again by several communities that have been involved in land restoration since 2014.

The example of Tera was an opportunity for the communication experts participating in the workshop to focus on telling the story of the Great Green Wall – vital to mobilise the huge support needed so this great African initiative can realise its epic ambition of creating a great mosaic of green and productive landscapes across North Africa, the Sahel and the Horn of Africa.

AAD, an initiative of the African, Caribbean and Pacific Group of States (ACP) with funding from the European Union (EU), is assisting land restoration in six African countries - Burkina Faso, Ethiopia, the Gambia, Niger, Nigeria and Senegal, where an estimated 12 000 hectares of degraded land were planted between 2015 and 2017 to start their restoration. These encouraging early results suggest that land degradation is not yet irreversible.

Expanding Africa’s Great Green Wall

AAD’s example is proving to be an inspiration. Eritrea, Mauritania and the Sudan will soon start land restoration under a programme called Boosting Restoration, Income, Development, Generating Ecosystem Services, or BRIDGES, with financial support of the Ministry of Forestry and Water Affairs of Turkey. Adding Chad to this mix means that restoration activities are going to take place in ten African countries in the coming year.

After a week of discussions in Niger the experts concluded that in 2018 it would be possible to expand existing community-based restoration activities over an estimated 18 000 hectares by speeding up land preparation using a combination of mechanised interventions, animal traction and manual labour.

At the same time, a lot of effort will go into unleashing the economic potential of Africa’s drylands to offer real opportunities to its people that would otherwise have little alternative to look for prospects elsewhere. AAD focusses on strengthening and developing the value chain of ten different non-wood forest products, including fodder, honey, gum Arabic, and oil from the Balanites tree.

Furthermore, the communication experts managed to align their plans to a set of clear objectives in support of promotion for the Great Green Wall, enabling to accompany next year’s restoration work with a more powerful outreach.