12 African nations have come together pledging to build a 9 mile wide band of trees that will stretch all the way across Africa, 4750 miles, in order to stop the progressive advancement of the Sahara.
Senegal is leading a 12 African nations to build a living defense system appropriately named the Great Green Wall of Africa.
The Sahara is currently the 2nd largest desert in size, only smaller than Antarctica. However, unlike its frozen relative, the Sahara is actually expanding.
The United Nations estimates that, by 2025, 60 % of Africa’s arable land will be covered in Saharan sand, significantly expanding the current 9 million square km’s. Even if these estimations prove aggressive, the effects of farmland exploitation on a region already hard-pressed for food would be devastating on any level.
With this danger in sight, the leaders of Senegal, Mauritania, Mali, Burkina Faso, Niger, Nigeria, Chad, Sudan, Eritrea, Ethiopia, and Djibouti have banded together on an remarkable effort to prevent approaching disaster.
Once complete, Africa’s Green Wall will be a manmade forest of drought-resistant trees (principally acacia) extending across the entire region.
9 miles wide and 4,750 miles long, the vision for the project is as committed as it is necessary. Thus far, only 330 miles of greenery stands guard in Northern Senegal, and has cost the Sengalese government over $6 million since the start of digging in 2008. International organizations have pledged over $3 billion to the enormous defense system.
Leaders point out that the Great Green Wall is about more than just defense from windblown sand. The project will bring thousands of jobs to poor communities, and has already transformed usually useless land into gardens scattered with tree nurseries.
The increase of tourists, scientists, and medical professionals has also brought attention and resources to a neglected region in which aid is scarce and doctors are not readily available to needy people.