Action Against Desertification

FAO and CIFOR-ICRAF to generate knowledge for accelerating Africa’s Great Green Wall implementation

EU funded project ‘’Knowledge for action in implementing the Great Green Wall’’ launched at the African Union during the week on Great Green Wall


Addis Ababa. The European union and FAO renewed their commitment to accelerate support for implementing the Great Green Wall (GGW) through the launch at the African Union of a ‘’Knowledge for Great Green Wall Action (or “K4GGWA”) project during the GGW Week, 6-10 November in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

The African Union launched the GGW in 2007 as an urgent response to the detrimental effects of desertification, drought and climate change in the Sahel. Today, it is globally the most prominent large-scale land restoration endeavor, aiming to restore 100 million hectares of degraded land, create 10 million jobs in rural areas, sequester 250 million tons of carbon, and improve food security and nutrition for 20 million people, by 2030. 

After previously investing in FAO's Action Against Desertification (2014-2020) and ICRAF's Regreening Africa (2017-2023), the new EU funding aims to consolidate scalable achievements, carry out assessments of missing gaps and develop knowledge products and capacities for accelerating support and delivery of GGW targets. The K4GGWA project comes as a direct response to some of the challenges identified in the GGW’s impact evaluation conducted in 2020. The project is designed to ensure continuity, coordination, and complementarity with other GGW interventions, providing knowledge products and capacities that accelerate the GGW implementation. More specifically, the project will assess learning and capacity needs and gaps, organize knowledge exchanges, develop state of land and vegetation maps to monitor progress as well as policy and institutional frameworks for targeted advocacy. FAO and CIFOR-ICRAF are implementing K4GGWA in the eleven countries of the Panafrican Agency of GGW and related activities will expand to Benin, Cape Verde, Cameroun, Ghana, Gambia, Somalia and South Sudan. 

The week on GGW 2023 was also an opportunity for key stakeholders and partners supporting the GGW to participate, in person and online, in a series of sessions to enable a dialogue between regional programmes, ensure a good communication flow and enhance synergies. The meeting included Directors of national agencies, the Panafrican Agency, regional and international Technical and Financial partners, the AU Commission, NGOs and Civil society support groups. The PA-GGW reported that 295 000 ha of lands have been planted for restoration in 2022, making 34 % of this year’s set target. The Technical and Financial partners noted through the GGW Accelerator that 80% of 19bn USD pledged in 2021 during the One Planet Summit has materialized, but mostly through financial supports to governments. The week was an occasion for AUC to hold its 8th Regional Steering Committee meeting for the GGW initiative, during which a draft of the Continental GGW new Framework strategy was presented, including the three regions of the Sahel, North Africa and the Southern Africa of Kalahari-Namid desert of the SADC region. The meeting also noted the revival and better organization of the UN system support to GGW established in September 2020.

FAO, as one of the GGW major technical partners over the past decade, reported that, since the establishment in 2014 of its dedicated Action Against Desertification (AAD) programme to support the GGW implementation on the ground, over 100 000 hectares of severely degraded agro-sylvo-pastoral lands have since been prepared and planted for their restoration in targeted areas, improving the livelihoods of 100 000 households during the last 6 years in ten countries. Native species were prioritized as planting materials and inputs of 150 tonnes of seeds were collected for that purpose. The collected field data for example is now available in the new GGW land restoration monitoring App, accessible to implementing rural communities. The model approach centres around rural communities: their lands, farms, and priorities for improved livelihoods, food security and nutrition, and FAO's contributions are mainly oriented towards building technical capacity for GGW’s sustainability and impact on the ground.  

The Africa Open Data on Environment, Agriculture, Environment and Land, or known simply as Africa Open DEAL, a panoramic situation of land restoration needs within the GGW corridor and a general land use in Africa, will moreover serve as baselines to provide a comprehensive view of land use and restoration opportunities in all three GGW regions: in the Sahel, North and Southern Africa. These integrated and aggregated data points, accessible to all member countries, will continue to guide decision-making, improve allocation of resources, monitor progress, and report on the impacts of the implementation of GGW and other land restoration initiatives in Africa such as the African Forest Landscape Restoration Initiative or AFR100.

The GGW remains a transformative initiative that contributes significantly to 15 of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals for Africa's drylands, and particularly addresses the goals on reducing poverty, ending hunger, mitigating climate change, protecting and restoring life on land, and fostering partnerships. FAO has developed and implemented a restoration model that efficiently addresses large areas of degraded land to meet the massive restoration needs in drylands, aligning with the objective of restoring 100 million hectares by 2030 in the Sahel. Looking ahead, FAO is leading a collaborative and multi-country proposal for "Scaling up Resilience in Africa’s Great Green Wall", which has been submitted in September 2023 for funding to the Green Climate Fund. Over 10 years, the initiative aims to restore 1.4 million hectares, benefitting over 3 million direct beneficiaries and supporting regional monitoring across all 11 Great Green Wall countries, in collaboration with national and Panafrican agencies and other partners.