Israel helping Africa build ‘Great Green Wall’ to contain the Sahara

Israeli initiative aims to help African countries bordering on the Sahara stop the climate change-fueled encroachment of the desert on arable land with a green buffer.

By Pesach Benson, TPS

As part of the fight against global climate change, Israel’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs hosted African participants of the “Desertec” training program, including representatives from countries which Israel does not have diplomatic relations with.

Desertec helps African countries deal with the challenge of the spread of the desert in the Sahara region and is aiming to create an 8,000 km long green buffer in the Sahel, an area of Africa where the ecosystem transitions from the Sahara Desert to the savannah.

Dubbed “The Great Green Wall,” the tree-planting initiative would stretch from Senegal on the Atlantic to Djibouti on the Red Sea, to prevent the Sahara from continuing to expand southward.

Studies estimate that the Sahara is currently expanding at a rate of around 30 miles per decade.

The Great Green Wall, which will cross 22 countries, aims to restore 100 million hectares of currently degraded land, create 10 million jobs. The resulting changes would also have plants capturing an estimated 250 million tons of carbon.

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The group was invited to Israel to assist them by identifying and mapping water challenges in their region, while finding solutions combining Israeli knowledge and technologies, which have proven successful in the past in the fight against desertification in Israel.

Among the participants is the niece of Chad’s foreign minister, with whom Israel renewed diplomatic ties in recent years. Other countries represented included Djibouti, Niger, Burkina Faso, Mali, Mauritania, Ethiopia, Eritrea, Nigeria, and Senegal.

Foreign Minister Eli Cohen said, “The threat of the desert poses a danger to many countries with climate change. Israel is fighting this threat at home and is contributing its experience and capabilities for the benefit of Africa. We will continue to deepen and strengthen our ties with countries that desire this for the sake of the prosperity and stability of the region.”