The Great Green Wall is a major African-led initiative that will span 7,775 kms across the middle of the African continent. It is an ambitious project with the bold ambition to restore the productivity and vitality of the Sahel region, whilst ‘growing solutions’ to the Continent’s most urgent development challenges.

From Senegal to Djibouti – the “wall” will cross 11 countries. It will be grown from the ground up, from trees and vegetation that will help to offset carbon dioxide emissions and restore land degradation. Once complete, this colossal feat of human endeavor will be the largest living structure on the planet – three times the length of the Great Barrier Reef (UNCCD, 2016).

Why build a green wall?

The Great Green Wall initiative aims to transform Africa environmentally, as well as the lives of millions of the continent’s poorest people.

It will be planted across the center of Africa, through a region called the Sahel, which spans the southern edge of the Sahara. The Sahel used to be lush and productive land, which had supported millions of livelihoods for generations.

However, the effects of climate change, population growth and poor land management practices has caused the land to degrade. Without sufficient productive land to grow food or sustain decent lives, many who relied on the land have been pushed into poverty. It has also contributed to food and water shortages, recurrent conflicts over declining natural resources, mass unemployment and forced migration (UNCCD, 2016).

The initiative is about far more than just growing trees. It has a clear vision to:

  • Grow climate resilience for local communities in a region set to be hit by a 3-5 degree temperature rise by 2050
  • Grow food security for the 20 million people in the Sahel that go hungry every year
  • Grow ‘green’ jobs to provide stable incomes for African women and youth
  • Grow a global response to the migration crisis, with 60 million people set to migrate to Europe from degraded parts of Africa by 2020
  • Grow peace and security in the Sahel, where conflict has displaced 2.8 million people this year alone


How are they doing it?

Creating a new Wonder of the World is no easy feat. A number or nations and organisations are working together to see this dream succeed. 20 African countries have united with the United Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) and several other organisations.

In December 2015, at the Global Climate Summit in Paris, world leaders pledged USD 4 billion to the initiative. The project is gaining momentum and nations across Africa are already seeing the results.

Who knew a wall could make the world a better place?

The Great Green Wall is a game-changer for Africa with the potential to strengthen local resilience to climate change, preserve rural heritage and improve the livelihoods of local populations.

Since its launch in 2008, the Great Green Wall has already made major progress in restoring the Sahel. Some key stats include:

  • Ethiopia: 15 million hectares of degraded land restored
  • Nigeria: 5 million hectares of degraded land restored. 20 000 jobs created
  • Sudan: 2 000 hectares of land restored
  • Senegal has planted 11.4 million trees. These are mostly acacia trees, which can be harvested for Gum Arabic, a substance used widely to manufacture products including pharmaceuticals and soft drinks, for which demand is currently outstripping supply. Other indigenous trees are planted to maximise shade and prevent ground water loss and shrubs that can be grazed by livestock (The Telegraph, 2016). 25 000 hectares of degraded land has now been restored in Senegal.

The ambition is to complete the project by 2030, in the process restoring 100 million hectares of land, sequestering 250 million tonnes of carbon and creating 350,000 jobs. The African Union estimates the project is around 15% of the way there – with thousands of people’s lives having been transformed due to the progress made.

We, at carbonTRACK, believe in looking after our environment and think this is a fantastic initiative. We work to help people every day to reduce the energy they use.

If you want to lower your energy use, get carbonTRACK today