Sahara is the largest desert in the world. It extends over 11 countries in North Africa and it has expanded by more than 10 percent in the last century. This adds up to millions of square miles. The authorities are worried because it will encroach into human habitats and pose innumerable problems that could threaten the survival of living beings. According to CNN, the Sahel region in Africa, a semi-arid belt, acts as a buffer zone just south of the desert. Water is becoming scarcer, the quality of soil is deteriorating, and these combine to create food insecurity.

The UN estimates a grim future ahead with lives of millions at risk. Therefore, the African Union drafted an ambitious plan in 2007. They decided to create a barrier to prevent the desert from expanding. Identified as the Great Green Wall, it would be 5,000 miles long and 9 miles wide. It would be a natural barrier with a combination of trees, vegetation, grasslands and plants. Once completed, it would be more than three times the length of the Great Barrier Reef. This GBR happens to be the largest living structure on Earth and the Great Green Wall could overtake that record.

Africa requires funds for creating the wall

A project of such a magnitude requires funds. CNN says France, the World Bank and other donors have come forward to provide funds for the Great Green Wall in Africa.

Its tentative fund requirement is $33 billion to achieve the goal by 2030. However, progress of work is slow. So far, only a miniscule portion of work is completed. Those associated with the massive project are hopeful.

The Great Green Wall of Africa

Countries around the Sahara Desert have tried out a whole lot of options to check the sand from expanding its reach.

Some of these included reforestation and agroforestry. Then came methods of creating terraces, and dune fixing. These fell in the category of techniques to arrest the movement of sand so that natural vegetation could thrive on its own. The communities also took action to protect their water supplies. They did this by drilling bore wells and constructing irrigation systems.

CNN adds that the Great Green Wall in Africa would expand its green cover and simultaneously create jobs in rural areas. These employment opportunities are in sectors like growing fruit and forest products. Sarah Toumi is a French-Tunisian environmentalist. She was involved in the initiative's recent fundraising push. She says - "It's about creating sustainable livelihoods for people ... so that they can live peacefully in their ecosystems and preserve their traditions and preserve their landscapes." In June 2019, Harry and Meghan visited Africa.

Expansion of the desert in Africa could mean disaster

According to Africa News, the Great Green Wall is a joint effort of communities in the Sahel and Sahara regions to roll back the Sahara desert.

The Sahel is a semi-arid region of western and north-central Africa extending from Senegal to Djibouti. It lies at the southern edge of the Sahara desert. The African Development Bank agreed to mobilize funds to support the project. That will help the communities in the region to adapt to climate change and improve food security. AfDB president Akinwumi Adesina has made the pledge. It was during the OnePlanet summit hosted by French President Emmanuel Macron. His words were - “The future of the Sahel region depends on the Great Green Wall. Without the Great Green Wall, the Sahel region as we know it may disappear.” The United Nations cautions the Sahel could experience rise in temperature by up to 3 to 5 °C by 2050.

This would in turn result in changing patterns of rainfall and lead to increase in the frequency and intensity of climatic disorders like floods, droughts, and sandstorms that will affect Travel. The need might also arise for Renewable Energy. Climate change has affected agriculture and trade. These are vital sources of sustenance for communities in the Sahel. Incidentally, in April 2019, Harry and Meghan said they could move to Africa to extend support to good causes.