The Great Green Wall: the ecological project that will cross the African continent.
June 24, 2016.
The Great Green Wall was an African political decision of 2005 to build a tree barrier over 7,000 kilometers long and 15 meters wide that crosses the continent from the Atlantic Ocean to the Red Sea, to combat desertification, poverty and climate change. Two initiatives were undertaken,one is to protect lots of grazing and human intervention, in the fenced areas vegetation grows in greater quantity and variety, used for cattle and become birds and other animals .The second initiative are the gardens: mixed, near the villages, on plots of five to ten hectares where fruit and vegetables are grown. The alma mater of this project are local women, in the dry season is used drip irrigation. In 2007 at the eighth summit of the regional bloc in Africa, in addition to Senegal and Nigeria, was joined Mauritania, Mali, Burkina Faso, Niger, Sudan, Chad, Eritrea, Ethiopia and Djibouti..
Those that traveling to meet the Great Green Wall and ask when it will be finished, Deborah Goffner responds: No delivery date, but action plans define objectives five years in each of the countries participating in the initiative. The expert in plant biology called “a patchwork of development projects” that with time and effort, started without being wall, nor so big, not so green, to redraw the landscape and the lives of dozens of communities in the belt Sahel, the transition zone between the Sahara desert and savannah of central Africa.
Goffner is scientist at the Stockholm Resilience Centre in Sweden (a research center of socio-ecological systems), and lives five months in Senegal, Dakar is your primary residence, although his studio work and monitoring for OHM.I Tessékéré (an observatory of the relationship between man and environment) leads her to travel long distances only in that country, the wall stretches over 535 kilometers and an area of 80,000 hectares.
Map of the Great Green Wall in Africa
The Great Green Wall was first a political decision. In 2005, the head of the African Union, Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo, raised the idea, which ended up shaping his Senegalese counterpart Abdoulaye Wade. In 2007, at the eighth summit of the regional bloc, eleven countries sealed an ambitious project with the name that is known now.
Perhaps because it is a political decision, the bet was big: build a tree barrier over 7,000 kilometers long and 15 meters wide that crosses the continent from the Atlantic Ocean to the Red Sea, to combat desertification , poverty and climate change. Senegalese President Abdoulaye Wade said at the time: “The project is crazy, but a touch of madness is not useless to conceive what was ever conceived”.
The mixed garden Koyli town of Alpha, in the Great Green Wall (Courtesy Deborah Goffner)
Apart from Senegal and Nigeria, Mauritania, Mali, Burkina Faso, Niger, Sudan, Chad, Eritrea, Ethiopia and Djibouti they joined. The Great Green Wall did not advance equally in all these countries. In 2008 Senegal, who did not wait for funds arrived international community already had 5,000 hectares planted.
To Goffner, planting trees in the Sahel only “is not desirable, nor possible.” In eight years of joint work between the observatory OHM.I, the National Agency of the Great Green Wall, the universitaries and locals, the reforestation in Senegal became a symbol and gave more prominence to projects as integrated into the local communities. “The Sahel is not as people imagine it. it’s not a desert with dunes”, the desertification are no moving mountains of sand on earth. It is the result of low rainfall, between 200 and 400 millimeters per year and the impact of human activity, such as population pressure and overgrazing.
Facing this phenomenon, two initiatives were undertaken, one is to protect lots of grazing and human intervention: “It is low cost and high added value”, in the fenced areas, improve soil properties, vegetation grows in greater quantity and variety, used for cattle and “return the birds and other animals.” The second initiative are mixed orchards. Near the villages, in plots of five to ten hectares, fruit and vegetables are grown. The dry season irrigation is drip. The alma mater of this project are local women, who received training in the cultivation and management of the cooperative, they prefer to produce in the culture fetching water to tens of kilometers away, says the researcher.
This is one of the most ambitious environmental projects that have faced the African continent. Beyond the global impact, the changes are palpable produces a much smaller and community level, where day after day, is built the wall that will never be completed, nor will it be a wall.