Namibia’s Environment and Tourism Minister, Pohamba Shifeta, has declared that Southern Africa would join the Great Green Wall (GGW) initiative, a land greening exercise put in place in Saharan Africa and the Sahel area.
The minister made this declaration after the five-day African Drought Conference here recently. “We are excited about the GGW initiative; we believe it is a game changer in enhancing food security, resilience to drought, and combating land degradation,” Shifeta says.
“It is truly a flagship programme and an example of what we can achieve through improved pan-African cooperation and partnership.”
He further noted that the GGW initiative could be adapted for the South African Development Community (SADC), which has 15 member states, among them Botswana, Namibia, South Africa, Zimbabwe, Zambia and Malawi.
The SADC countries declared a regional emergency two months ago due to drought, appealing for US$2.89 billion to mitigate the effects of drought.
During the Africa Drought Conference the African Union Commissioner for Rural Economy and Agriculture, Tumusiime Rhoda, urged SADC to be added to the GGW. “I call on the Southern African region to join the Great Green Wall initiative,” he said.
The GGW initiative for the Sahel-Saharan areas of Africa was adopted by the African Union (AU) in 2007. The initiative aims to create a green strip of land 15km wide and 7,100km long across Africa from Dakar in the west to Djibouti in the east by planting trees, amongst others.
Each of the 11 participating countries developed its own national action plan. In Senegal alone, some 11 million indigenous trees were planted, which have contributed to the restoration of 27,000 hectares. Reserve areas for the planting of fodder crops for livestock during the lean season have been set aside.
According to Elvis Tangem, GGW coordinator at the AU Commission, talks started to make Namibia the forerunner of the initiative for the SADC region. “Talks are underway for Namibia to be the flag bearer of the GGW for the Southern African region,” Tangem said.
In his presentation at a conference side event, Tangem said that by reversing land degradation and reducing biodiversity loss in Africa’s arid areas, the living conditions of populations were being improved.
“Land degradation, desertification, droughts and climate change know no boundaries and impacts are increasing and fast,” he said.
Namibia’s Ministry of Environment and Tourism is expected to officially announce its participation in the GGW initiative in due course.