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Chad starts planting wall of trees to fight drought on denuded land

Page history last edited by Rosemary 7 years, 5 months ago

For decades, the government in Chad saw the environment as “the white man’s problem” said Minister of Environment, Hassan Térap. “For so long, it was a problem for rich countries, but now our land has been denuded, cattle are dying, water is shrinking, it is our problem too,” the minister told IRIN.
More than one-third of the country’s cattle – or about 780,000 animals – died following a 2009 drought that shrivelled pastures, according to the government. “Without shade, heat beats down on our animals more quickly,” said herder Al Hadj Abakar in Chad’s western region of Kanem.
Heads of states from African countries are concluding a meeting on 17 June in Chad’s capital N’Djamena to launch a transcontinental 7,000-km tree planting project, from Senegal to Djibouti in east Africa.
When asked if the long-discussed but yet-to-be funded Green Wall initiative was too ambitious, Térap told IRIN: “We have to attack the problem, long ignored, through vision, ambition – and trees. What is wrong with ambition?” The countries involved in the initiative include Senegal, Mauritania, Mali, Burkina Faso, Niger, Nigeria, Chad, Sudan, Ethiopia, Eritrea and Djibouti.
As part of the continent-wide barrier, Chad aims to plant a 1,000km-long by 15km-wide wall of trees. The initiative was launched with US$4.6 million in government funds, but Térap estimates it will cost at least US$11 million to reach the coverage target.
The country’s 11.9 million hectares of existing forest land has shrunk by at least 0.6 percent annually in the last 20 years, according to UN Food and Agriculture’s most recent report on the state of the world’s forests.
Since 2009 the government has criminalized the cutting down of trees to make charcoal, with six months imprisonment and fines, in an effort to reverse deforestation. It has also started planting 160,000 heat-resistant trees, including acacia in N’Djamena.
But planting trees is not enough, according to the environmental ministry’s director of forestry, Abakar Mahamat Zougoubou. “You need a holistic approach, to develop systems.”
“Nurturing trees is not a sexy investment for NGOs, which may plant seedlings in greater quantities than the government. But we are the ones who remain and need to nurture the plants when groups move on. We need to encourage the private sector,” Zougoubou said.
The government estimates that private greenhouses in Chad planted two million trees in 2009.
Waving his hand over a tree planting site in N’Djamena that he hopes will one day become part of the “Green Wall”, Minister Térap told IRIN: “We will soon stand in the shade here. It is a long road, but I can see the shade at the end of the tunnel.”

This story, originally entitled CHAD: Green wall starts to grow and datelined N'Djamena June 17, 2010, was written and distributed by IRIN News, the humanitarian news agency. The photograph, which shows Environment Minister Hassan Térap who hopes that where there is sun will one day be shade, was taken by Phuong Tran/ IRIN


Update: International funding for Green Wall approved

In an article in the Guardian Feb. 25, 2011, entitled Great Green Wall to stop Sahel desertification, Julio Godoy reports that the Global Environment Facility (GEF) has confirmed its promise to allocate up to $115 million to support construction of the Green Wall and that other international development institutions also made investment pledges of up to $3 billion to support building the wall. The GEF is made up of 182 member governments, many international institutions, non-governmental organisations and the private, and provides grants to developing and transitional countries for projects related to biodiversity, climate change, international waters, and land degradation.


Update: 'Green wall' project gathers pace in Senegal

Emeka Johnkingsle, SciDev.Net

12 August 2011

[DAKAR] Senegal is planting its latest batch of seedlings for Africa's 'wall of trees' initiative this week — the first planting since a memorandum of understanding (MoU) for the project was signed in May. The Great Green Wall project involves planting a living wall of trees and bushes more than 7,000 kilometres long and 15 kilometres wide, from Dakar, Senegal in the west to Djibouti in the east, to protect the semi-arid Sahel region from desertification.

The project is in its fourth year in Senegal, with planting taking place in Labgar, Mbar Toubab, Tessekere and Widou. The 1,500-strong workforce began planting this week (8 August) and hopes to plant 1.65 million seedlings by 15 September. Since 2008, Senegal has planted nearly eight million seedlings for the wall.




For more inspiring stories about locally-driven solutions to desertification and water shortages, see:

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Rebuilding eroded land brings orchards, community gardens to Ethiopian village

Harvesting fog brings clean water to mountainous areas around the world

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Mumbai rainwater harvesting ensures water in dry times

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Rainwater harvesting allows Indian women to fill their water pots each day

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