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Africa

A 5,000-mile living wall could hold back the world's largest desert

March 17, 2021. Summarized by summa-bot.

Compression ratio: 25.6%. 1 min read.

Koyly Alpha, Senegal- Assiatou Ba, part of the Women???s Association of Koyly, pulls weeds from seedlings that will be planted in a parcel contributing the Great Green Wall Project in Koyly Alpha, Senegal on Friday, August 2, 2019. Two hundred women belong to the ???Nanandiral Antent Koyly??? (the Women???s Association of Koyly) and care for tens of thousands of seedlings that will be planted over 5 hectares in the region. They are paid 55.000CFA per season and planted 71,650 seedlings this past season alone with a 42% survival rate. The Great Green Wall project is an $8 billion plan to plant drought resistant trees along 4,815 miles across the edge of the Sahara desert, an effort to combat the diminishing Sahel. Launched in 2007, the project not only hopes to combat decades of abuse and climate change related droughts, but to educate and employ those who are hardest hit.

The Great Green Wall initiative aims to stop the spread of the Sahara Desert by restoring 100 million hectares of land across 11 countries.

Within the next decade, the Great Green Wall initiative hopes to restore 100 million hectares of land between Senegal in the west and Djibouti in the east, creating a 15-kilometer-wide (9 miles) and 8,000-kilometer-long (5,000 miles) mosaic of trees, vegetation, grasslands and plants.

So far, 4 million hectares of land has been restored -- just 4% of the overall goal -- though this rises to almost 20 million hectares when counting areas outside of the official Great Green Wall zones.

Ethiopia is reported to have restored the most so far, producing 5. 5 billion plants and seedlings, and planting more than 150,000 hectares of reforested lands and 700,000 hectares of terraces -- which together make up an area more than five times the size of London.

"It took us more than a decade to set up the countries and all the strategies," says Elvis Paul Tangem, coordinator of the Great Green Wall initiative at the African Union Commission.

In addition to the Great Green Wall's target for land restoration, there is also the goal to create 10 million jobs in rural areas.

If there is no job for someone in their community due to desertification and land degradation, they are likely to migrate -- which could trigger political instability across the world, says Monique Barbut, former executive secretary of the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification and special envoy for biodiversity to the French President.

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