Africa’s Great Green Wall

greatgreenwall_0The Great Green Wall initiative is a pan-African proposal to “green” the continent from west to east in order to battle desertification.  It aims at tackling poverty and the degradation of soils in the Sahel-Saharan region, focusing on a strip of land of 15 km (9 mi) wide and 7,100 km (4,400 mi) long from Dakar to Djibouti.

Populations in Sahelian Africa are among the poorest and most vulnerable to climatic variability and land degradation.  They depend heavily on healthy ecosystems for rainfed agriculture, fisheries, and livestock management to sustain their livelihoods.  These constitute the primary sectors of employment in the region and generate at least 40 percent of the gross domestic product (GDP) in most of the countries.  Additionally, the ecosystem provides much needed livelihood products, such as fuelwood and bushmeat.  Unfortunately, increasing population pressures on food, fodder, and fuelwood in a vulnerable environment have deteriorating impacts on natural resources, notably vegetation cover.  Climate variability along with frequent droughts and poorly managed land and water resources have caused rivers and lakes to dry up and contribute to increased soil erosion.

The vision of a great green wall to combat ecological degradation was conceived in 2005 by the former President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, and the idea was strongly supported by President Abdoulaye Wade of Senegal. The vision evolved into an integrated ecosystem management approach in January 2007, when the African Union adopted declaration 137 VIII, approving the “Decision on the Implementation of the Green Wall for the Sahara Initiative”. In June 2010, Burkina Faso, Chad, Djibouti, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Nigeria, Senegal and Sudan signed a convention in Ndjamena, Chad, to create the Great Green Wall (GGW) Agency and nominate a secretary to further develop the initiative.

The participating countries hope that by linking national-level efforts across borders, they will tackle policy, investment, and institutional barriers that exacerbate the effects of climate change and variability, leading to desertification and deterioration of the environment and natural resources and the risk of conflicts between communities. International Colloquiums are held to discuss possible barriers as well as share available knowledge on the vegetal species, systems of development, and GGW monitoring updates1.

galma_1The GEF emulates the spirit of collaboration by allowing participating GGW countries to prioritize which projects they want to implement, in conjunction with GEF agencies and their partners.  They may “develop one or several projects in the context of this program and assign some or all of their financial allocations to the Great Green Wall[1]”.

Progress is apparent especially in the Zinder region of Niger, where tree density has significantly improved since the mid-1980s.  GEF CEO Monique Barbut attributes the success to working with farmers to find technical solutions, particularly long-term land and financial solutions, in order to save the trees.  This form of natural regeneration benefits local communities and the global environment alike by increasing crop yield, improving soil fertility, reducing land erosion, improving fodder availability, diversifying income, cutting wood collection time for women, strengthening resilience to climate change, increasing biodiversity, and much more.

Source: Bioneers

Central African debacle testing South African identity.

Where exactly are the borders of South Africa in a New World Order of changing economic relationships such as BRICS?

Questions over whether South Africa is South of Africa, or simply South of the North must have been plaguing diplomats last week in the rush to explain the loss of between 13 and 36 soldiers of an “expeditionary force” supposedly protecting assets in the Central African Republic before the local president was toppled by rebels.

With little clarity coming from South Africa’s President Zuma, who characteristically claimed “debate about the Central African Republic threatened national security” there was a lot of speculation in the media on the true motives for the military endeavor.

At first we were told that the loss was simply a “tragic accident”, then as independent reports emerged confirming heavy causalities by an elite parachute battalion, one of several such regiments, it transpired the deaths were the result of a full-scale battle deserving of military honours – the Battle of Bangui. Like the invasion of Angola by the apartheid regime, the “training mission” had turned into a “military operation”. Yet Operation Vimbezela as it is known, was referred to as an “expeditionary force” as far back as 2010, which gives us some insight into how the ANC securocrats and the emerging covert government of bilateral and trilateral global deals is running things.

South Africa’s heaviest military loss since apartheid raised prickly questions for Zuma over why our troops were sent to an area where South Africa has no immediate strategic interests.

This week our “brave SANDF troops” were being redeployed to a new frontline in the DRC, ostensibly under United Nations supervision. Another day, a different country, with a different set of politics, or is this what they want us to believe?

The words of ousted President Francois Bozize pointing fingers at Chad and urging further action in the ongoing war in the Sahel is cause for concern.

South Africa appears to be wavering in the face of an international resource conflict which is raging between various powers across Africa and also in the Gulf region. The Times carried reports of party-political involvement in some of the trade deals carving up the continent in a scramble for minerals.

What exactly are our obligations to the African Union and shouldn’t we be protecting our national sovereignty rather than our own economic interests to the possible detriment of member states? In short where exactly are South Africa’s borders?

That we have a military which still thinks in terms of extra-territorial interventions and army expeditions North of the Limpopo river without any concern for the possible logistical backlash in terms of our own national preservation and self-defense as a nation is alarming to say the least.

SANDF soldiers had to beg for essential equipment from French paratroopers deployed in the region.

This must leave some citizens worried that South Africa could very well end up being forced to host foreign military supervisors, with the possibility of aggressive intervention in our own affairs, for example, any one of the BRICS nations has a far greater and more capable military. Not that residents in Soweto would object to receiving protection from well-heeled Indian or French troops, but do we have to put up with the Chinese and Russian hawks at the same time?

The cost of the latest South African Community of Central African States airlift is estimated at between R277 and R370 million and will be paid by the SANDF,  according to communication head Siphiwe Dlamini.

At the end of the day the only barrier South Africa has between it and the rest of the world aside from land mass is a nebulous moral claim to being a free Republic with a human rights-based Constitution, — this appears to have been rendered null and void the minute our government started lying to its citizens while intervening in the affairs of another country, resulting in calls by the opposition for the impeachment of the Head of the Republic, Commander-in-Chief Jacob Zuma.

UPDATE: Open letter from M23