Action Against Desertification

In Sudan, the Great Green Wall is offering new opportunities for women

From large-scale restoration to income generation


Applying the large-scale land restoration model devised by Action Against Desertification (AAD), the BRIDGES project (Boosting Restoration, Income, Development, Generating Ecosystem Services) has brought restoration up-to-scale in Kassala in eastern Sudan, a region bordering Ethiopia and Eritrea affected by drought and climate variations, which only receives less than 150 mm of rain between August and October.

In the past, Kassala was rich with forest cover and natural pastures. However, the natural vegetation has increasingly been under pressure from the high demand for biomass energy and building materials, leading to their degradation, poverty and at times, conflicts from competition over reducing resources between farmers and pastoralists. Adding to this pressure, the region hosts camps of over 108 000 refugees from Eritrea and Ethiopia, in regular need of natural resources for their daily life.

It is in this context that BRIDGES became operational in villages surrounding both the Abudrais and Aklayat forests, in the State since 2019, focusing on limiting degradation and restoring degraded lands.

The total area planted for restoration has reached 3,573 ha in Sudan, for the three years period. This, in addition to the development and strengthening of value chains for non-timber forest products, capacity development and awareness-raising activities on environmental issues and sustainable land management.

Ms Fawzia Mohammed Elhassan is one the project’s active participants and beneficiaries of BRIDGES in Kassala. She lives in Elmaamura, a locality of Wad Elhelaw, with her husband, their three sons and four daughters. Fawzia sized this great opportunity and adhered to the BRIDGES project. Since its start in 2019, she contributed to project restoration and socio-economic activities and benefitted from its training and capacity development.

Through BRIDGES, she learned to collect pods of the sunut tree (Acacia nilotica), to build improved stoves for cooking, to process food products (ice cream, cake), to cultivate crops and vegetables such as okra, and to produce dura (sorghum) fodder which she sells and uses to feed her own animals.

Fawzia confides that she has earned more than 200,000 SDG (about USD 347) this year from these activities, allowing her to invest in equipment and goods for herself and her family. More importantly, she now relies on a wider range of income sources, which makes her livelihood much more resilient.

“I am grateful to the project, which has allowed me to increase my income, to produce okra to feed my family and sorghum fodder for my animals.” she says. “And I hope to help people in the area by sharing my personal experience with others” she adds. Fawzia’s experience is similar and shared within nearly 150 households in 21 villages, with a high rate of women participation, that the project has reached so far.

The BRIDGES project is a partnership between Türkiye and FAO to support the Great Green Wall under the Action Against Desertification initiative in Sudan, Mauritania and South-south cooperation. As of December 2022, the project has bought a total of 5,744 hectares of degraded land under restoration in these two countries.