An epic dream
Africa’s dream of a Great Green Wall dates back to the 1970s, when vast swathes of fertile land in a region called the Sahel, which spans the southern edge of the Sahara Desert, started to become severely degraded.
In only a few years, this once lush and verdant region, that for generations had supported millions of livelihoods, turned increasingly dry and barren due to the combined effects of climate change, population growth and unsustainable land management practices.
Without sufficient productive land to grow food or sustain decent lives, a spiraling cycle of poverty quickly emerged. Over the years, this has fuelled severe food and water shortages, recurrent conflicts over declining natural resources, mass unemployment and forced migration.
In the face of increasingly desperate circumstances, community leaders and political visionaries alike, started to look for a long-term solution. In the 1980s, the extraordinary idea of transforming the region’s degraded landscapes through a ‘Great Green Wall’ stretching across the width of Africa, from Senegal in the West to Djibouti in the East, started to gain momentum.
Finally in 2007, under the leadership of the African Union, countries across the region took the bold step of turning this long-standing African dream into a life affirming reality.
From the original 11 countries that signed up to the initiative, today there is an ever expanding group of more than 20 countries across Africa who have joined this truly Pan-African movement.