One region that is already feeling the catastrophic effects of climate change is the Sahel region at the southern edge of the Sahara Desert. In recent years this region has experienced persistent droughts, and a degradation of agricultural lands. Because of the lack of water and fertile land this region suffers from an acute lack of resources which causes starvation and poorer living conditions for the millions which inhabit the area.
To fight back against the effects of climate change 21 African nations have joined together in a joint venture: this venture plans to build an 8,000 km wall across the width of Africa from Senegal to Djibouti. The joint venture is known as The Great Green Wall and it has already started to reverse the harmful effects of desertification in the Sahel region: in Niger over 5 million hectares of land has been reclaimed for agricultural purposes and is providing an extra 500,000 tonnes of grain per year, in Senegal over 12 million drought resistant trees have been planted meaning the land retains more water which creates a more fertile soil.
As well as tackling the effects of climate change the Great Green Wall addresses multiple sustainability related issues in the region fulfilling the criteria of 15/17 of the United Nations sustainable development goals. The initiative is only possible because of collaboration between nations and the communities responsible for growing the wall. This collaboration has also contributed to the decline in conflict in the Sahel region. For years the lack of resources in the area has meant that the Sahel region has witnessed increased levels of conflict as people fight for the remaining limited resources in the region. Because the Great Green Wall is bringing both agricultural and economic prosperity the availability of resources has improved which has meant that the cause for much of the conflict in the region has been removed. The increased economic income has also improved the educational prospects for millions of people as more investment is made in providing local schools and families are able to afford the extra costs of education.
The holistic approach that the Great Green Wall initiative has taken is the only way in which we can all really create a sustainable future. For long term environmental initiatives to truly work they also need to be both socially and economically sustainable.
To find out more about The Great Green Wall click here