Africa’s Great Green Wall gives feasible returns to investments- FAO-led study reports

Senegalese working in a tree nursery forming part of the Great Green Wall [Image: @Fao]
Africa—The Great Green Wall, or Great Green Wall of the Sahara and the Sahel is a project led by the African Union, initially conceived as a way to combat desertification in the Sahel region and hold back the expansion of the Sahara, by planting a wall of trees stretching across the entire Sahel.

The GGW is not only vital in battling climate change but equally important in making commercial sense for investors, according to a new study led by the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (FAO) and published in Nature Sustainability.

It’s indicated that for every US dollar put into the massive effort to halt land degradation across the African continent from Senegal in the West to Djibouti in the East, investors can expect an average return of USD 1.2, with outcomes ranging between USD 4.4, the analysis finds.

“We need to change the rhetoric about the Sahel region, to reflect the fact that despite its harsh and dry environment, investors can get a viable return on their investment in efforts to restore the land.” Spoke MNoctor Sacande, Internatio0nal projects Coordinator at FAO’s Forestry Division and one of the study’s lead authors.

It’s an assessment that uses field and satellite data to track the land degradation over the period of 2001-2018 and then compares the cost and benefits of restoring the land-based on different scenarios adapted to the local contexts.

The results provide the final piece of economic transparency in a jigsaw, with the political will and the technical know-how already in place and should encourage the private sector, which is showing increased interest.

According to Sacande, the greening and land restoration along this belt starching 8,000 km across the continent is already underway. Communities are planting resilient and hardy tree species such as the Acacia Senegal, providing gum Arabic widely used as an emulsifier in food and drinks.

With technical support from FAO more than 500 communities have witnessed food security and income generation opportunities.

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