SADC to join the GGW
At the end of the five-day African Drought Conference, Namibia’s Environment and Tourism Minister, Pohamba Shifeta declared that Southern Africa join the Great Green Wall (GGW) initiative, a land greening exercise put in place in Saharan Africa and the Sahel area.
“We are excited about the GGW initiative, we believe it is a game changer in enhancing food security and resilience to drought and combating land degradation,” Namibian Minister Shifeta said. “It is truly a flagship programme and an example of what we can achieve through improved Pan-African cooperation and partnership.”
Shifeta noted that the GGW initiative could be adapted for the South African Development Community (SADC), which has 15 member states, among them Botswana, Namibia, South Africa, Zimbabwe, Zambia and Malawi. The SADC countries declared a regional emergency two months ago due to the drought, appealing for US$2.89 billion to mitigate the drought effects.
During Africa Drought Conference the African Union Commissioner for Rural Economy and Agriculture, Ms Tumusiime Rhoda urged SADC to be added to the GGW.
The Great Green Wall (GGW) initiative for the Sahel-Saharan areas of Africa was adopted by the African Union (AU) in 2007. The initiative aims to green a strip of land 15 km wide and 7,100 km long across Africa from Dakar in the west to Djibouti in the East by planting trees, amongst others.
Each of the 11 participating countries developed its own national action plan. In Senegal alone, some 11 million indigenous trees were planted, which have contributed to the restoration of 27,000 hectare land. Reserve areas for the planting of fodder crops for livestock during the lean season have been set aside.
According to Elvis Tangem, GGW coordinator at the AU Commission, talks to make Namibia the forerunner of the initiative for the SADC Region have started. “Talks are under-way for Namibia to be the flag bearer of the GGW for the Southern African Region.”
In his presentation at a conference side event, Tangem said by reversing land degradation and reducing biodiversity loss in Africa’s arid areas was improving living conditions of populations. “Land degradation, desertification, droughts and climate change know no boundaries and impacts are increasing fast,” he said.
Namibia’s Environment and Tourism is expected to officially announce its participation in the GGW initiative in due course.