Imagine a 4,400-mile long wall, nine miles thick, traversing 11 countries. Now imagine that wall to be made completely of trees. That’s the concept behind the transcontinental “Great Green Wall,” a massive undertaking of the Global Environment Facility (GEF) and 11 northern African nations.
In a June 17 summit in Ndjamena, Chad, the GEF announced they will fund the $119 million project, which was adopted by the African Union back in 2007.
“We will make an allocation to each of your countries,” GEF Chief Executive Officer Monique Barbut told the leaders of the 11 nations in Ndjamena, according to AFP. “The size of the allocations will depend on the country. The cumulative total of aid from the GEF comes to about 119 million dollars.”
The Wall represents a pan-African proposal to reforest the continent from west to east, an effort aimed at combating desertification in the Sahel-Saharan region. Linking Dakar in the west to Djibouti on the Red Sea in the wast, the wall will cross through Senegal, Mauritania, Mali, Burkina Faso, Niger, Nigeria, Chad, Sudan, Ethiopia, Eritrea and Djibouti.
“The Great Green Wall is a project conceived of by Africans for Africans and for future generations,” said host Chad President Idriss Deby Itno is his welcome speech at the presidential palace in Ndjamena.
The announcement coincided with “World Day to Combat Desertification,” a United Nations sponsored day to promote public awareness relating to the international cooperation to combat desertification and drought, and the implementation of the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD).
GEF is an independent financial organization uniting 182 member governments- in partnership with international institutions, nongovernmental organizations and the private sector – to address global environmental issues.
According to the GEF website, they are the largest funder of projects to improve the global environment, having allocated $8.8 billion, supplemented by $38.7 billion in co-financing, to more than 2,400 projects in more than 165 countries.