Green Wall for the Sahara: opportunity local regeneration initiatives?
Yesterday, the World Bank Global Environment Facility announced at a meeting of African leaders in Chad to devote 96 million Euros to the "Great Green Wall of the Sahara" initiative: a barrier of trees 7000 kilometer long and 15 kilometer wide which will be planted across 11 African countries, from Senegal to Djibouti. This Green Wall will have to slow down wind erosion and enhance rainwater infiltration. The idea for this Wall emerged five years ago. In July 2005, President Obasanjo, President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, proposed to the Fifth Ordinary Summit of the African Union (AU), an initiative for the establishment of a "Green Wall for the Sahara". At the time, the Heads of State requested the African Union Commission (AUC) to facilitate its formulation and implementation. However, because of lackof funds implementation had not yet begun.
This commitment of the 11 African countries to control desertification offers opportunities to build on the many successes, which have already been achieved in several Sahel countries in the fight against desertification. For instance, soil and water conservation projects in Burkina Faso and in Niger, which used simple water harvesting techniques, have led to the rehabilitation of about 0.5 million hectares of barren, degraded land. With, but also without support of African governments, civil society organisations and community organisations. Farmers across the Sahel have invested in the protection and management of spontaneous regeneration of trees and bushes on their cultivated land. This has helped farmers to adapt to climate change, to improve soil fertility, to increase biodiversity, to improve food security and last, but not least, reduce rural poverty.
For example, a study carried out in Niger in 2006 analyzed long-term trends in agriculture and environment as well as impacts of investments in natural resource management. One of the most surprising findings was that farmers in several densely populated parts of Niger have protected and managed on-farm trees since the middle of the 1980s. The scale at which this re-greening happened, five million hectares, is unique for the Sahel And it possibly is the largest environmental transformation in Africa. This has never been achieved by any tree planting project in Africa. Five million hectares at an average of 40 trees/ha means 200 million new trees. If each tree produces an average annual value of one Euro per tree (firewood, fodder, fruits, medicinal products, improved soil fertility, increased crop yields, etc.) this means an annual production value of Euro 200 million. This does not yet include the value of the carbon sequestered by the standing tree stock.If 4 million individuals are concerned by re-greening, this means an average annual benefit of 50 Euro per capita, whereas average annual per capita income in Niger is in the order of 280 US $.
Research in the Maradi region of Niger shows increases in the number of tree species from a handful in 1985 to 35 species in 2006. Farmers in this region also report that early in the rainy season, the current high tree densities protect their crops better against the impact of strong winds. During the food shortages of 2005, infant mortality in villages which had protected and managed natural regeneration was close to nil, but much higher in villages, which had not done so. This can be explained easily. Trees are productive capital assets. They produce fodder for livestock, fruit, soil fertility, etc. During drought years, many farmers literally survive on their trees.
We fully agree with the 11 governments planning to plant a Green Wall across the Sahara that it is vitally important to increase the number of trees to stop desertification, but we urge them to explore possibilities for expanding the scale of existing small-scale and large-scale successes. Increasing the number of on-farm trees produces multiple benefits at minimum costs and it fights desertification effectively.
In the current context of food crisis, climate change and rapid demographic growth, the challenge is to quickly develop substantive action to improve and expand tree-based production systems. Planting trees is definitively an important option, and sometimes necessary to help boost regeneration processes. Tree planting under harsh climatic conditions is difficult and survival rates are often low (20% or less). The Green Wall initiative offers a window of opportunities to help promote re-greening initiatives in Africa based on farmers protecting and managing natural (tree) regeneration, as a low cost and effective way to keep the desert at bay.
Chris Reij from VU University Amsterdam, a good partner of Both ENDS, told the story at the Dutch radio programme Met het oog op morgen.
For more information contact Paul Wolvekamp.
Read more about this subject
News / 19 May 2022
Both ENDS and 95 other organisations* today sent a letter to State Secretary for Finance Marnix van Rij and Minister for Foreign Trade and Development Cooperation Liesje Schreinemacher calling on them to implement the Glasgow Declaration in full. In this agreement, which the Netherlands and 33 other countries signed at the Glasgow climate conference, the signatory countries pledge to stop all public funding for fossil projects by the end of 2022.
Event / 18 May 2022, 10:45 - 12:15
UNCCD-COP15: Monitoring Tree Cover and Enhancing Decision Making Tools Across Africa’s Great Green Wall
Join us for an open space for a reflection and exchange on a new dataset, developed by WRI, to monitor regreening efforts, and its applications in the Sahel.
In the drylands of Africa, land degradation threatens the livelihoods of millions of people. Fortunately, there are promising initiatives emerging all over the continent that are turning the tide. Throughout the Sahel, for example, vast tracts of land along the Great Green Wall have been restored by local communities. They have nurtured the plants that spontaneously spring from the soil, protecting young sprouts from cattle and other hazards.
Event / 16 May 2022, 13:00 - 15:00
UNCCD-COP15: How funders can best support agroecological initiatives by local communities in drylands
Join our dialogue on how to set up more and better financial mechanisms that can support agroecological initiatives of local communities living in drylands.
The land degradation neutrality (LDN) response hierarchy of Avoid > Reduce > Reverse land degradation is an overarching principle for LDN implementation, which guides people in planning interventions to achieve LDN. The hierarchy articulates which interventions should be prioritised based on their potential to maximise the conservation of land-based natural capital, recognising that avoiding or reducing land degradation is generally more cost-effective than efforts to reverse past degradation. As value for money is highest in the Avoiding and in Reducing Land Degradation response, a smart way to spend money is to support sustainable land management approaches like agroecology that work with nature, not against it.
Event / 16 May 2022, 13:00 - 15:00
Join our event, providing space for an interactive discussion among COP15 participants on multi-actor collaboration and the financing of community-based restoration
Letter / 15 May 2022
Both ENDS Comments and recommendations on the Bank Group’s Environmental and Social Policy of the AfDB Integrated Safeguards System
This letter by Both ENDS to the African Development Bank is a comment written in reaction to a draft version published by the Bank of its Environmental and Social Policy as part of a formal public consultation held by the Bank. This comment was sent to the bank along a joint submission letter with other CSOs, and specifically responds to the overarching Policy.
The bank's flexible requirements for clients and national standards for risky projects dilute safeguards. Project approval should be predicated on specific and binding targets for compliance and reflect input from communities involved.
Letter / 15 May 2022
Joint Submission of comments and recommendations to the Public Consultation on AfDB Integrated Safeguards System
Together with 29 other CSO's, we've submitted our comments and recommendations in the Public Consultation on the AfDB Integrated Safeguards System. These include that the Bank should prioritize community-led development and human rights-based approaches; protect natural resources and tackles environmental and climate crises; raise the bar on access to information, transparency and accountability; facilitate participatory processes in policies, programmes and projects; and end inequality, poverty, and the cutback and privatization of vital services.
News / 10 May 2022
From May 9 to 20, the 15th Conference of the UN Convention to Combat Desertification, Land Degradation and Drought (UNCCD COP15) will take place in Abidjan, the capital of Côte d'Ivoire. Governments, policymakers, civil society organisations and scientists from countries all over the world will discuss the problems around drought, land degradation and desertification that are increasing. Colleagues Nathalie van Haren and Stefan Schüller will be there, as will a large number of representatives of organisations with which Both ENDS has been working together for decades. But what is the purpose of the meeting, what is discussed and why is it important to be present? We asked Nathalie and Stefan.
News / 29 April 2022
Both ENDS mourns the death of Khadija Catherine Razavi, founder of CENESTA – Centre for Sustainable Development and Environment in Iran.
Event / 26 April 2022, 10:00 - 11:30
Both ENDS and the Land Portal Foundation invite you to the first webinar in the Whose Land? - Inclusive Pathways to Land Governance series, which aims to provide a platform for stakeholders engaged in land governance to exchange on the importance of inclusivity and meaningful participation of all relevant actors in both formal and informal land governance processes.
It sounds so logical: patents and other intellectual property rights protect investments in innovations, allowing more innovations to be made from which the whole world can benefit. Such as new medicines or drought-resistant crops. But in practice, these property rights often have the opposite effect, hindering access to innovations for those who need them the most.
News / 25 April 2022
The European Union (EU) continues to demand that countries of the South introduce plant variety protection rights according to UPOV 91 in free trade agreements. This is happening in the ongoing negotiations of the EU with Indonesia, trying to take away Indonesia's flexibility to implement a law that suits its own needs and priorities. We therefore call to sign our letters on this subject to the European Commission and the Indonesian government.
Letter / 22 April 2022
Both ENDS, also on behalf of FERN, NCIV and Milieudefensie, sent a letter to Vivianne Heijnen, the State Secretary for Infrastructure and Water Management, about the MTCS certificate. In practice, this Malaysian timber certificate appears to tolerate the violation of indigenous land rights and intimidation of indigenous organisations. The Netherlands should therefore suspend the approval of MTCS in its purchasing policy, among other things.
News / 15 April 2022
The Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) has taken a unique decision to withdraw from the construction of two controversial dams in Ixquisis, Guatemala. Both ENDS has supported our partner AIDA for many years in its fight against the dams. Tamara Mohr and Pieter Jansen explain why this decision is so exceptional.
Publication / 12 April 2022
News / 31 March 2022
We are exited about the news that Ms MacKenzie Scott decided to entrust substantial funding to a wide range of small grants funds from Both ENDS' partner networks*. These small grants funds are unique as they are set up and led by people, often activists themselves, from the country or region in which the fund is based. Most mainstream conventional funders admit they have difficulties reaching community based organisations and grassroots groups themselves. Small grants funds know better than anyone how to reach local communities, who to support and what kind of financial as well as non-financial support is most needed. Thus, they bridge a wide funding gap. Both ENDS applauds this recognition of the important role of these funds in the funding landscape. We hope this encourages more funders to join!
Event / 25 March 2022, 16:00 - 17:30
What does feminist climate action look like and what does it lead to? Join us to hear from grassroots activists who will share their lived experiences and recommendations for equitable, just, and sustainable strategies to tackle the most pressing issue of our time. Global Greengrants Fund and the Global Alliance for Green and Gender Action (GAGGA) will formally launch our joint campaign commitment to support these frontline climate solutions alongside the UN Women Generation Equality Forum’s Feminist Action for Climate Justice Action Coalition. Register today to learn how to mobilize more and better support for feminist climate action.
News / 22 March 2022
These past weeks we have been joined the #WeWomenAreWater campaign to put the spotlights on just climate solutions of and for women, girls, trans, intersex and non-binary people around the world. The campaign started on International Women's Day (March 8th) and ends today, on World Water Day. Just climate solutions already exist but these initiatives are grossly underfunded, and the people implementing them are also those most impacted by climate change and climate-related water scarcity. Therefore, we would like to highlight, especially today on World Water Day, some of these solutions below. And we also have a special message from the colleagues at Both ENDS working on inclusive water governance.
News / 18 March 2022
Today is International Day of Forests. An ever more important day, as the amount of forest and forested area's on this globe is shrinking at a fast pace. One the main causes is our ever increasing demand for products such as soy and palm oil from area's that have been deforested for their cultivation. The current proposed EU-deforestation law to prevent this, is not strict enough and does not include the protection of other crucial natural areas such as grasslands, savannas and swamps, as well as the human rights of the millions of people living in these area's. During these past few weeks we therefore participated in the campaign #Together4Forests, calling on citizens to send a letter to their own responsible ministers. The campaign paid off: almost 54,000 letters were sent to European ministers across the European Union, demanding a strict forest law that guarantees the import of only deforestation-free products in Europe.
To celebrate this International Day of Forests, we would like to emphasise the great value of forests and other natural areas, directly or indirectly, for the livelihoods of at least 2 billion people. Below, we selected some examples that show how, throughout the world, local communities use many different ways to collect and produce food and other natural products in a sustainable way, while protecting and restoring the forests and forested area's they are so dependent upon.
Event / 15 March 2022, 11:00 - 12:30
Join us at the 66st UN Commission on the Status of Women (CSW66) for a critical conversation about the intersections of climate, gender and sustainable development. Land defenders and gender rights advocates will join ministry representatives from Sweden, Chile and the Netherlands in a discussion about feminist leadership in protecting land, promoting climate solutions and supporting truly sustainable development strategies. In this session, we aim to explore how governments and feminist climate movements can best work together to tackle the root causes of the climate crisis.
Press release / 7 March 2022
A recent study by Profundo for Both ENDS and Oxfam Novib shows that investment in agroecology is necessary for a sustainable and inclusive global food system. Today, some 768 million – one in ten – people suffer from hunger or a severe shortage of food on a daily basis. Conflict, economic stagnation caused by the Corona epidemic, and the climate crisis present an immediate threat to the production of and access to sufficient nutritious food. Agroecology, a form of agriculture that places small-scale farmers, the natural environment and short supply chains at the centre of food production, makes communities in developing countries more resilient and helps them combat hunger. The study concludes however that major donors, including the Netherlands, are so far providing insufficient support for agroecology.