Africa Alive: How an International Green Belt is Uniting the Continent

As a global community, we aren’t taking as much action as we possibly could in regards to global warming. At the cost of everything we hold dear, climate change is one of the biggest threats we on planet Earth face, and time after time environmental issues get pretty much overlooked completely. Nevertheless, in a united front against desertification in the most affected areas of Africa, countries are banding together to fight back, and in doing so aim to plant a magnificent 8,000 km long and 15 km wide green belt across the width of the continent.

The Great Green Wall as it has been called was a programme started in 2007 to fight the detrimental effects of global warming whilst taking root in the Sahel region on the southern edge of the Sahara desert, one of the poorest places in the world. The Wall spans across 11 African countries, each doing their bit and planting drought-resistant acacia trees with the roots of the trees being able to hold water in the soil, so locals can drink water from formerly dry wells again. Prior to the initiative, residents felt they needed to migrate for better jobs and a better standard of living, but the green belt itself has given a whole new lease of life to those living around it.

Locals can now follow the line of the belt for jobs, and while tackling the desertification that forced thousands from their homes, a new amazing economy has emerged from the initiative with vegetables more easily grown and produce being cheaper to buy. Attendance for children in schools around those said areas has increased, a video by the BBC has reported.  Clearly, it’s safe to say that although years until completion and estimated to cost around $8 billion in total, progress has been made and change is happening, especially seeing how The African Union, UK Botanical Gardens, The UN and The World Bank have all pledged money to help alleviate the cost of such a vital project for those nations. Being the country with the most advancements made in the project, Senegal has been able to plant 11 million trees and has seen drastic improvements in both the geographical environment and the lives of people living there.

China itself has planted at least 66 billion trees since 1978 in their own Great Green Wall in order to stop the expansion of the Gobi Desert, claiming that the desertification that has forced many to flee has been reduced by 5,000 miles in the time the trees have been planted and enabling it to keep being called a home for those who live there. It has been estimated that over the past 40 years, around a third of the Earth’s land suitable for the cultivation of crops has been lost to erosion and degradation-mere consequences of global warming and climate change. Needless to say, although both green belts take part in specific parts of the planet, they are remarkable steps forward for the whole of humanity.

 

Image credit: The Great Green Wall

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