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Turkey contributes USD 3 million to expand Africa’s Great Green Wall

Smallholder farmer in Mauritania. ©FAO/Giampiero Diana

FAO and Turkey have committed to jointly restore 5 000 hectares of degraded land in three African countries along the Sahara. The three-year project is an important boost for countries’ efforts to tackle land degradation along Africa’s Great Green Wall.

Desertification, land degradation and drought, exacerbated by climate change, are among the most serious challenges to sustainable development in African countries. They can cause hunger and poverty, rural unemployment and forced migration, and they have far-reaching adverse impacts on human health, food security, nutrition, the economy, natural resources and national and global security.

The new project, called BRIDGES – short for Boosting Restoration, Income, Development, Generating Ecosystem Services – supports land restoration in arid and semi-arid areas of Eritrea, Mauritania and the Sudan. The total budget of BRIDGES amounts to USD 3.6 million, including USD 3 million from Turkey and USD 600 000 from FAO’s Action Against Desertification programme.

BRIDGES builds on the programme’s restoration method, proven to be successful, that is expected to bring some 50 000 hectares of land under restoration by early 2019. The project will also support the development of value chains of non-wood forest products to stimulate economic growth, boost incomes and create jobs.

BRIDGES will contribute to the Great Green Wall initiative, a pan-African programme to tackle the negative effects of desertification and land degradation on dryland Africa by creating a great mosaic of green and productive landscapes. With operations in Eritrea and the Sudan, BRIDGES particularly boosts land restoration efforts in Eastern Africa.  

“This is the first time that FAO and Turkey have worked together on the African continent,” said Mette Wilkie, chief of FAO’s forestry policy and resources department. “Turkey’s support is a powerful encouragement for FAO’s efforts to ‘regreen’ Africa’s drylands.”

In these countries, the main drivers for soil loss and degradation have been unsustainable practices, changes in natural habitats and ecosystems, reduced ecosystem services such as water infiltration and the loss of agrobiodiversity and wild biodiversity, and reduced natural buffers to recurrent droughts and floods.

This broad undertaking has the potential to trigger change in a number of different areas. Community-based land restoration and strengthened national seed delivery systems and non-timber forest product value chains can improve the resilience of rural communities. In addition, policymakers and practitioners can benefit from activities to share knowledge and raise awareness, whereas Great Green Wall information and monitoring systems will have a wider outreach.

“Joining hands to help people in Africa adapt to a changing climate shows that our partnership has become stronger over the years,” said a statement of the Turkish authorities in charge of the partnership with FAO, managed by the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry and coordinated between the General Directorate of Desertification and Erosion control and of Forestry, adding: “This opens a new chapter in our relationship with FAO.”

20 December 2018, Ankara, Turkey

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