Action Against Desertification

Preparing for large-scale land restoration across Africa’s Great Green Wall

Technical workshop on restoration of degraded drylands in East Africa.


Nairobi – During a workshop organized by FAO in collaboration with the Kenya Forestry Research Institute (KEFRI) from 22 to 24 February and funding support from EU-ACP , detailed plans were made for land restoration in East African countries across the Great Green Wall in support of Africa’s flagship initiative to combat desertification and climate change.

The workshop complements a similar exercise for Western Africa held end January in Nigeria to prepare for large-scale restoration efforts from Senegal to Ethiopia during the first half of 2016 in the framework of Action Against Desertification, or AAD, supporting the Great Green Wall initiative in six African countries.

35 experts from Djibouti, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Egypt, Fiji, Haiti, Kenya, Sudan and Uganda, as well as from the African Union Commission and from international organisations such as IGAD, NGARA, ICRAF, SPC and FAO gathered in Nairobi to work out detailed plans for restoration activities in 2016.

Central to these plans is an approach tested in Burkina Faso, Mali and Niger, which puts communities at the heart of restoration efforts and focuses on their needs for useful plant species and preferences for restoration in support of their livelihoods.

Other key elements of the approach include planting the right species in the right place, promoting the use of quality native forest and fodder seeds, ensuring that a wide range of plant species diversity are used and made available for use, managing natural regeneration of species and planted areas, and updating a Great Green Wall species database for gene pool traceability, monitoring, reporting and for future uses of data and information. 

Experts from Haiti and Fiji took part in the workshop to share knowledge and lessons learned from the Great Green Wall experience to inform their own efforts in helping local communities adopt improved sustainable land- and forest management and restoration practices, as part of AAD’s efforts to foster the sharing and exchange of development solutions between countries in the global South, or South-South cooperation. 

The workshop also offered the opportunity to introduce the
Global guidelines for the restoration of degraded forests and landscapes in drylands, recently published by FAO, which brings together knowledge gained worldwide in dryland restoration.

At the same time, experts updated each other of restoration efforts in their respective countries and regions and explored synergies and complementarities between projects and programmes carried out by the organizations involved in sustainable land management. The Network for Gum Arabic and Resins of Africa commended the GGW restoration programme and urged for more support to the African communities in restoring degraded land with useful species the likes of Acacia senegal in order to get income out of gum production and added value.

Areas of collaboration and synergies have been identified with ICRAF restoration research programme and with the Pacific Community (SPC) restoration programme based in Fiji.

Action Against Desertification, or AAD, is an initiative of the African, Caribbean and Pacific Group of States (ACP) to promote sustainable land management and restore drylands and degraded lands in Africa, the Caribbean and the Pacific, implemented by FAO and partners with funding from the European Union in the framework of the 10th European Development Fund (EDF).

Workshop material: