Action contre la désertification

"Green wall" to target Sahel terrorism

By Gavin Haines - The Sahel - BBC


Desertification in Africa's Sahel region may be driving a range of problems including terrorism. Gavin Haines investigates whether a project to reforest the region could help.

Since French forces were deployed to Mali earlier this year, the Sahel has emerged as a new battleground in the so-called war on terror. 

This semi-arid region just south of the Sahara Desert has been described by the French military as "planet Mars" and is characterised by extreme heat, drought and food shortages. 

Poverty is never far away and this, according to Kouloutan Coulibaly, Mali's Director of Forestry, makes it a breeding ground for extremism. 

"When you have no money and no job and the terrorists come and pay, people say yes," he explains. "It's an opportunity for them."

Despite the lure, most eschew terrorism and continue to eke out their honest, knife-edge existences in this most inhospitable part of the world. Others abandon the Sahel altogether and head for new horizons. [more]