Donors pledge $14 bln for 'Green Wall' to hold back Sahara

by Reuters
Monday, 11 January 2021 15:55 GMT

A dried up river filled with sand winds its way across the desert near Gos Beida in eastern Chad June 5, 2008. Africa's Sahel region suffers from desertification as fertile land gives way to sandy expanses creeping ever southward, compounding problems in a region already affected by wars and rebellions, many of them driven by competition for scant resources. Wednesday was U.N. World Environment Day. REUTERS/Finbarr O'Reilly (CHAD)

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Trees and grasslands will be planted along a 8,000km strip of land stretching from the Atlantic to the Red Sea

PARIS, Jan 11 (Reuters) - Development banks and states have pledged a total of $14.32 billion over the next four years to build a "Great Green Wall" to help contain desertification in Africa's northern Sahel region, French President Emmanuel Macron said on Monday.

Speaking at an international biodiversity summit in Paris that his government is hosting, Macron said the pledges had exceeded the initial target of $10 billion.

Creeping desertification of land on the edges of the Sahara desert that used to be productive is plunging people into desperate poverty and driving some to migrate.

The project covers a strip of land stretching 8,000 km (5,000 miles) from the Atlantic to the Red Sea. Trees and grasslands will be planted, and projects launched to create sustainable ecosystems, supporters of the initiative say.

"That's 100 million hectares restored, 10 million jobs created, 250 million tonnes of carbon captured," Macron said at the summit at the Elysee Palace, home of the French presidential administration.

The African Bank for Development (AfDB) said over 5 years it would mobilise $6.5 billion of the $14.32 billion pledged for the project.

"The future of the Sahel region depends on the Great Green Wall," said AfDB President Akinwumi Adesina. "Without the Great Green Wall, the Sahel region as we know it may disappear." (Reporting by Elizabth Pineau; Writing by Christian Lowe and Dominique Vidalon; Editing by Giles Elgood)

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