Security concerns, lack of support hang on Africa’s green wall

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UGADUGU, Burkina Faso – Lack of funding and political will, as well as the growing insecurity associated with the extremist groups al-Qaeda and Islamic State in Burkina Faso, hamper the progress of Africa’s Great Green Wall, according to experts.

There have been some modest gains for the project, which plans to build 8,000-kilometer (4970-mile) forests across 11 countries across Africa across a wide area of ​​Africa to contain the growing Sahara Desert and counteract the effects of climate change, but many involved in the plan face insecurity and environmental degradation. Both are calling for new momentum.

Only 4 million hectares (9.9 million acres) of land have been afforested since Green Wall began work 15 years ago – only 4% of the program’s final goal.

Adama Dolkom, co-ordinator of the Great Green Wall and Sahel Initiative for Burkina Faso’s Sahara, said political instability and security issues were significantly stunting progress in about 4,000 villages across the country.

“Terrorist attacks in the affected areas have forced people to disperse. This limits the mobility of people, making it difficult for us to monitor field activities directly, which can be difficult to improve in certain areas, “said Dulcom.

In the last three years, Sahel, the north and east of Burkina Faso have become inaccessible. Most of the Sahelian region designated for the Green Wall is fraught with security concerns, with efforts by Sudan, Ethiopia, Mali, Chad, Niger and Nigeria all affected.

The UN Desertification Agency says there are several additional challenges to overcome the plan, such as warm high-level political support, weak organizational structure, inadequate coordination and funding, and insufficient consideration of national environmental priorities.

The Great Green Wall was mainly seen at the two-week summit of the United Nations in Abidjan, Ivory Coast, which ended on Friday. Desertification, which has a devastating effect on food production and security, is exacerbated by climate change and agricultural activity.

First proposed in 2005, the program aims to plant a forest from Senegal in the western Atlantic Ocean to Eritrea, Ethiopia and Djibouti in the east. The initiative is expected to create millions of green jobs in rural Africa, reduce climate-related migration to the region and capture millions of tons of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. Mali, Nigeria, Djibouti and Mauritania in particular have lagged behind and several countries have struggled to comply with the project’s demands.

The United Nations desert agency says up to 45% of Africa’s land is affected by desertification, making it more vulnerable than any other continent. The agency’s director, Ibrahim Thiao, believes that security concerns can have multiple negative effects on the surrounding community.

A report released by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute on Sunday points to a link between environmental degradation and conflict. “In Sahel, social tensions combined with inadequate governance and environmental degradation pose a major security risk,” it said.

“By reclaiming land, you have reduced conflict and irregular migration. There is a link between land reclamation and irregular migration, “said Ibrahim Thiao. “Land reclamation is not a substitute for regrets that any effort to restore soil health, restore natural capital and restore land health will provide far more benefits than costs.”

“What we are calling for now is to take steps to expedite the implementation of this national program to ensure that farmers, pastoralists, local communities and women are all involved,” she added.

Despite many obstacles, those involved in the project are optimistic. Elvis Tangem, coordinator of the Great Green Wall, told the Associated Press that the conflict has slowed the project’s progress, opening up new opportunities.

“It started as an environmental project but the dynamics of the region have made it possible to go beyond the environmental aspects of our project and directly embrace community concerns such as conflict resolution, peace building, youth development, women empowerment and rural development especially among the clergy and the farming community.” Said.

According to the Program Coordination Office in Addis Ababa, there has been some progress in recent years before the continent.

Eritrea, Ethiopia and Sudan have all expanded their efforts, with Ethiopia producing 5.5 billion saplings that have reclaimed thousands of hectares of land as well as improved employment. Efforts in Eritrea and Sudan have resulted in about 140,000 hectares (346,000 acres) of afforestation.

Niger is also acclaimed for its considerable progress.

“In terms of measurable recovery milestones on land, Niger can be said to be far ahead of most countries in terms of significant civic awareness and contributing to reforestation activities at all levels,” said Great Green Wall Ambassador Tabi Joda. “More communities are embracing the initiative and leading through their own community-led solutions.”

Joda, who led the youth movement for the project, noted that the project has seen strong government support in Senegal and Nigeria.

According to estimates by the World Resources Institute, ওয় 36 billion to $ 43 billion will be needed to implement the Green Wall by 2030. The African Development Bank pledged about 6. 6.5 billion for the wall by 2025 during the UN climate conference by 2025, which is significantly less than the WRI estimate, after a French-led effort in early 2021 to pledge 14 14.5 billion for the project.

The United Nations Desertification Agency says that if the project is to achieve the self-imposed goal of reclaiming 100 million hectares (247 million acres), the current pace of land reclamation will need to increase to an average of 8.2 million hectares (20 million acres) per year. 2030

“Investments must deliberately provide opportunities that create the right dose of green work for young people and communities at risk for irregular migration and violence due to competition over scarce resources created by land degradation,” said Tabi Joda.

Wanjohi Kabukuru reports from Mombasa, Kenya.

The Associated Press gets support from a variety of individual foundations for climate and environmental coverage. See more about AP’s climate initiatives here. AP is solely responsible for all content.

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