Most people have not heard about the Great Green Wall being created on the continent of Africa. Its starting point is the southern edge of the Sahara Desert in the country of Niger. This location may seem odd if the goal is to create a “natural wonder” that will span the width of Africa. You build a bridge from two ends; you don’t start in the middle. But this is better described as a wall because it will be a project to fight against climate change that is occurring across the continent. It will spread out from Niger to the eastern and western shores of Africa.
Climate change has had significant negative impacts in this region, as not only have people left the region for European countries, but there have been annual droughts, which has led to the lack of food and the expected human conflicts due to the lack of natural resources. After starting the project more than a decade ago, progress has been made to restore the lost natural resources and water management has encouraged people to return to their homeland. Part of the change has come by planting acacia trees that prevent soil erosion because this species of tree holds most of its water in its roots, making it resistant to periods of drought.
One story on The Great Green Wall said that the people of the region decided to “fight back.” The question is how can man fight against the forces of nature? This appears to be exactly what the project is attempting, but the underlying reality is that it is working to cooperate with nature in spite of the global climate change. It can be thought of as an apology to nature from man.
Rather than trying to force the round peg in the square hole by denying the reality of climate change, species of plants are being brought into the region that are more suited for thriving in the changing environment. It’s not as though there are not trees that cannot thrive in desert environments, so it is simply a matter of finding what species can co-exist in the current climate.
This type of development is not only sustainable, but is likely to produce an even greater return on investment economically and environmentally. The aforementioned fight is going on from the human end by creating sustainability through people remaining in their area and working to find solutions to the problems which climate change has created. The topological categorization of the Sahei is not likely to change for another 100 years, but that is two generations of people who need to find ways to work with nature and stay put as an example to future generations.
I chose this example for sustainable development in the desert because The Great Green Wall has to contend with a wide variety of climates and economies to reach its desired goal of increasing employment and delivering people from poverty. Land that is abandoned to the whims of climate change is land that is lost for food production or advancing local economies. You might think of climate change as a way of nature adjusting to man, so man must cooperate and adjust their behavior to cooperate with nature.