Great Green Wall in Africa

The Great green wall project is one of the vital economic schemes and African nations hold high hopes on it due to its countless economic benefits, as it will contribute to the elimination of drought and desertification that have many negative effects on the continent.
Therefore, African leaders gathered in the Chadian capital last May N'Djamena to seek an urgent end to the environmental phenomenon.

SUNA interviewed the Minister of Environment and Urban Development, Dr. Hassan Abdul-Gadir Hilal, to focus on the impact and advantages of the projects to safeguard the environment in Sudan and all African countries.

Q: How did the idea of  the Great Green Wall of Africa start?

A: The idea of the Project first appeared in 2005 through an initiative put forward by the former Nigerian president Olusegun Obasanjo. It is a green belt to stop desertification threatening the African continent. The initiative is aimed at ending soil erosion; reduce wind speed and  soil absorption of rain water.
It is well known that a belt of poor and rich Savannah is shrinking, thus affecting the population's living standards and resulting in the increase of poverty and crime.

Q: Why has the implementation of the project taken too long in spite of its economic significance?

A: The main reason for the delay was to obtain funding from international monetary institutions; it saw the light in 2009-2010 when Sudan ratified the project and paid its subscription as Khartoum recognized its importance, particularly for supporting the Arabic Gum belt, of which Sudan is one of the biggest producers.

Q: How could Sudan utilize this huge development project?

A: Sudan gains a lot because the project passes across the Arabic gum belt, where more than 10 million people live .It extends from Gedarif in the east to Darfur in the west where south and north Kordofan and the Blue Nile are the richest in Arabic gum cultivation.

The project should connect with these areas within the framework of integrated rural development, which encompasses cities, schools, hospitals; portable water projects and irrigation water because these regions suffer from drought. Therefore, the project is a proper method to combat desertification and protect biological diversity in Sudan.
All these projects are aimed at tackling the problem of climatic change that represents the main reason of global warming and what is known as the greenhouse effect. It is necessary to speed up the process of entering the field of green economy.

The green economy means to spread the greenery culture and venture into whatever project that helps retain the balance of the universe and prevent environment and water pollution.

Q: How many African countries are members in the project?

A: There are eleven countries, Chad, Sudan, Burkina Faso, Niger, Senegal, Mali, Ethiopia, Mauritania, Eritrea, Nigeria, and Djibouti. All of them will utilize from the project but Sudan has the longest passage of wall project that will allow it to address the problems of all threatened-regions.

Q: How do you evaluate the forest belt in Sudan and how was it affected by desertification during the past period?

A: Some forests had disappeared in Sudan without any explanation or concern. Now we have adopted new measures to strengthen the role of forests.
"As we shouldn't falsely be allocated for forestry" , adding that any such an action should be followed by construction otherwise it will be deemed as destructive action against the environment .

Q: Did Sudan present any environmental projects to international financing institutions? what was the response?
A: Yes, Sudan submitted 17 projects in Rio, 20 Conferences in Brazil in addition to another 18 projects that are currently under study which will be presented to the UN environment Program in Nairobi.

Q: Are there any contacts with financing institutions to fund the Great green wall project?
A: Yes, the World Bank allocated 100 million US dollars and 7.5 million US dollar for researches, experts and technicians. Work in the project will commence during 2013. There are also other contributions from concerned bodies and organizations in the environmental field.

Q: What about the African Carbon Bank?
A: It was suggested by Sudan as an African bank dealing with bolstering efforts to achieve greater Carbon absorption in the continent and reduce the hazards of the greenhouse effect.

Q: Where will the headquarters of the Great green wall project and the African Carbon Bank be located?

A: The headquarters of the project will be in N'djamena while the bank will be based in Khartoum, which constitutes a diplomatic and political victory for Sudan. In e ministry, we are keen to provide prominent posts for Sudanese experts and cadres in these international organizations.

Q: When will the recommendations of the N'djamena summit be enforced?  When will the wall project be executed?

A: This year 2013 is the foundation year for the project. Sudan is ready to carry out its contribution to the project through projects of water harvest, utilizing sewages for forests farming projects.
One of the main goals of the project is to settle nomadic tribes in the project area to put an end to conflicts over water and pastures.
We expect that these areas will be more economically attractive to investors than oil or mining producing regions because resources here are renewable and inexhaustible, said Minister Dr. Hassan adding that, "The ministry is aiming at increasing green lands in Sudan from 11% to 25%.

By SUNA, 19/06/2013