Nelly Bassily | May 2, 2011
The Great Green Wall (GGW) is a partnership between 11 African countries that’s been planned for many years. It aims to create a green belt over about 8000 kilometres long to stop the advance of the Sahara desert, which threatens farmland in the Sahel. The idea is to plant a strip of trees and shrubs from Senegal to Djibouti. In February 2011, the project was officially endorsed at an international summit in Bonn, Germany. So far, the Global Environment Facility (http://www.thegef.org/gef/) has allocated 115 million US dollars to the initiative.
The idea of the GGW dates back to the former president of Burkina Faso, Thomas Sankara. In a 1986 speech in Paris during the First Conference for the Protection of the Trees and Forests, Sankara said: “Yes, the problem of the trees and the forests is exclusively that of the balance and the harmony between the individual, the society and nature. This fight is possible. Let’s not shy away from the immensity of the task; let’s not turn away from the suffering of others as desertification has no boundaries.” You can read the speech in its entirety at the following address: http://www.thomassankara.net/IMG/pdf/Sauver_l.pdf (In French only)
Sankara was right to mention “the immensity of the task.” As we write in the article, the scale of the GGW will be huge: 7775 kilometres long and 15 kilometres wide.
For more information on the project, visit the official site of the GGW: http://www.grandemurailleverte.org/gmven/index.php
Here are some news articles and links about the GGW.
Africa: Opposition to building the Great Green Wall: http://africanpress.wordpress.com/2011/04/18/africa-great-green-wall/
Le sable tu t’arrêteras: http://www.courrierinternational.com/article/2011/04/28/le-sable-tu-arreteras (In French only)
The Great Green Wall Initiative of the Sahara & the Sahel: http://www.oss-online.org/pdf/imv-en.pdf
The following Farm Radio International scripts deal with the subject of desertification:
-“Stop your land from turning to desert” (Package 42, Script 6, December 1996)
-A 13-part radio drama entitled “The long dry season: A tale of greed and resourcefulness” (Package 77, March 2006)
-“Stone lines reduce erosion” (Package 43, Script 8, March 1997)
-“Make drylands productive with planting pits” (Package 41, Script 1, September 1996)
The United Nations has designated June 17 as the World Day to Combat Desertification and Drought. For more information on the day, please visit the website of the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification: http://www.unccd.int/publicinfo/june17/2011/menu.php?newch=l
Since the GGW will travel through 11 African countries, it is important for people living near the wall to question the impact that the GGW may have on rural communities. Here are some questions that can help you create a program on the GGW:
-What do rural communities know about the Great Green Wall? Do they think that it will benefit them? If so, how? If not, why not?
-How is desertification affecting rural communities in your listening area?
-Do farmers feel they were consulted during the planning of activities for the Great Green Wall?