African Union: The Great Green Wall Initiative

Friday October 26 2018

The Great Green Wall (GGW) initiative aims to implement actions to end or reverse land degradation, loss of biodiversity in African drylands and to ensure that ecosystems are resilient to climate change. PHOTO | AUC


Aspiration 1 of Agenda 2063 envisions “A prosperous Africa based on inclusive growth and sustainable development” and one of the enabling factors to achieve this ambition is ensuring that the continent has an environmentally sustainable climate and resilient economies and communities.

This requires that Africa puts in place measures to sustainably manage the continent’s rich biodiversity, forests, land and waters and using adaptive measures to address climate change risks.

The African Union has put in place initiatives that build the resilience of communities and ecosystems in the dry lands of Africa by combating land degradation, desertification, loss of bio-diversity and climate change through the promotion of Sustainable Land Management and Restoration.

To overcome the scourge of climate change and variability manifesting itself in the Sahel and the circum-Sahara regions through desertification, land degradation and drought, in 2007, the African Union launched the pan-African Great Green Wall Initiative for the Sahara and the Sahel.

The Great Green Wall (GGW) initiative aims to implement actions to end or reverse land degradation, loss of biodiversity in African drylands and to ensure that ecosystems are resilient to climate change, continue to provide essential services and contribute to human well-being and the elimination of poverty and hunger.

The GGW Initiative aims to support over 425 million Africans living in the drylands to embrace sustainable development practices that protect the environment and fight against hunger and poverty.


This is important given the fact that the cost of inaction leads to forced migration and conflict, reduction of crop yields, unemployment, poverty, hunger and malnutrition.

The Great Green Wall Regional Harmonised Strategy, the blue print for the initiative, identifies cross-cutting actions required to address a wide range of concerns, including natural resource management, sustainability of rural production systems (agriculture, livestock breeding, forestry, water, etc.), the development of rural production and trade infrastructures, diversifying economic activities and wealth creation; considering gender, youth and wealth issues in development.

Therefore, the GGW initiative highlights both socioeconomic and environmental activities that are required to fight the external shocks jeopardising the wellbeing of people living in Africa’s drylands and its ecosystems.

The GGW Initiative comprises 21 African countries and is implemented under the coordination of the African Union which brings together international development and technical partners (EU, FAO, World Bank, UNCCD); partner institution’s (Pan African Agency of the Great Green Wall, Permanent Interstate Committee for Drought Control in the Sahel); and civil society organisations (ENDA Tiers Monde, SOS Sahel International, CARI) to support the initiative.

One of the programmes implemented as part of the GGW Initiative is the World Bank Sahel and West Africa Programme (SAWAP) which is implemented in 12 African countries through a funding of $1.1 billion and which by December 2017 had resulted in restoration of 1,080,956 hectares and more than 21 million people benefitting from activities carried under SAWAP.

Some achievements of the GGW

Senegal: Creation of nine multipurpose gardens and 85 percent of people employed in these gardens are women and youth from pastoralist communities. Provision of alternative pasture and fodder gardens for pastoralists during lean/dry season to control transhumance which causes conflicts. Impact includes increase in number of school-going children, reduction in transhumance, improvement in health and nutrition, development of non-farming income.

Nigeria: 11 states out of 36 involved 638.96km shelterbelt established, 309 hectares of community orchard plantations established; 292.7 hectares of community woodlot established; 22 hectares of community vegetable gardening to enhance food security; 157 solar powered boreholes constructed and benefitting over 40,000 people and 150,000 livestock through the provision of water.

The GGW Initiative once completed will become on one of the greatest environmental achievements of the 21st Century.

Focal areas of The Great Green Wall Initiative:

  • Sustainable water and land management
  • Land restoration and rehabilitation
  • Smart agriculture
  • Alternative and renewable energy
  • Animal husbandry
  • Education and awareness
  • Promotion of agroforestry
  • Knowledge exchange
  • Non timber forest products value chains development production
  • Resources mobilisation
  • Advocacy and political engagements
  • Capacity building and innovation

Resources mobilised for Transnational Projects implemented under GGW Initiative:

  • GEF and World Bank: $1.1 billion for SAWAP; 4.6 million for BRICKS
  • European Union: $24 Million for FAO –AAD project and $8 million for GM-UNCCD – FLEUVE project
  • GEF: $8 million

766,441 ha under restoration including planted area, natural regeneration, green space: (754,441 ha by SAWAP and 12,000 ha by AAD).

15 million beneficiaries (14.9 million by SAWAP, 100,000 by AAD, FLEUVE and National Agencies).

12,194 capacity development beneficiaries: (5,894 by SAWAP, 5,300 by AAD, 400 by FLEUVE, 600 by National Agencies).

Find out more about Agenda 2063 and Africa’s Great Green Wall Initiative by visiting