Africa’s Great Green Wall could halt youth migration, extremism: experts
DAKAR (Thomson Reuters Foundation) – A project to plant a wall of trees stretching across Africa aims not only to halt desertification, but also to improve food security, create jobs, and offer young people an alternative to migration and extremism, environmental experts said on Thursday.
The planned Great Green Wall would see a 7,000 km (4,400 mile) strip of vegetation reaching from Senegal in West Africa to Djibouti in East Africa, designed to trap the sands of the Sahara, halt the advance of the desert and restore 50 million hectares of land.
Some 60 million Africans could be forced to leave their homes within five years as their land turns to desert, while two thirds of the continent’s arable land could be lost by 2025 due to growing desertification, according to the United Nations.
This could drive young people across Africa into joining militant groups, such as Boko Haram, or attempting to cross the Mediterranean to seek work in Europe, said Camila Nordheim-Larsen of the U.N. Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD).
“The Great Green Wall is about more than just planting and counting trees, it is about building resilience in communities and developing sustainable projects to give young people reasons to stay,” she told the Thomson Reuters Foundation in Dakar.
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