October 18, 2013

Great Green Wall

Across northern Africa, the desert is steadily growing. Parched lands are spreading. But a bold project known as the Great Green Wall aims to stop the growth of the desert. The ambitious program includes plans to help protect and maintain resources and fight poverty.


Farmers are learning to care for their land and use water wisely. They are also planting millions of trees and crops. The Great Green Wall would cover an area more than 4,000 miles wide—from Senegal in the west to Djibouti in the east (see map).


The Great Green Wall was first approved by the African Union, a group of 53 nations, in 2007. The program receives support from the United Nations, the World Bank, and other groups.


A Barrier Against the Desert


According to the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), about two-thirds of Africa is desert or dry land. Climate change has led to long periods of drought. Some areas that once had crops are no longer fertile, or able to produce crops, because the land was not properly taken care of.


The Great Green Wall's trees provide a barrier against desert winds and help hold moisture in the air and soil, allowing crops to grow. In time, the richer soil will provide more land for animals to graze on. More resources will bring more jobs. "The goal is to create sustainable land management," Nora Berrahmouni, a forestry officer with the FAO, told TFK.


Trees and crops have been planted in Senegal and Niger. An added benefit of the Great Green Wall is that countries in the region are sharing information about which programs work and which don't. Now, along with trees, ideas are taking root. -By Melanie Kletter


Watch the video above for more about the Great Green Wall.


This article originally appeared in TIME FOR KIDS: Edition 5-6 on October 18, 2013.

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