Programme Officer, International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN), Mr Chris Magero, has said the participation of civil society organisations (CSOs) is necessary to achieve the vision of the Great Green Wall.
Magero disclosed this on the side-lines of the First Stakeholders Consultative Forum of the National Alliance for the Great Green Wall for the Sahara and Sahel Initiative (GGWSSI) in Nigeria, in Abuja.
He said the IUCN was supporting the implementation of the GGW through a project called “Closing the Gaps in the GGW” funded by Global Environmental Facility (GEF) and implemented by the UN Environment.
Magero said one key gap that had been identified in the course of the project was the need for the participation of CSOs.
“The project started in 2016 and we have engaged through a number of activities already.
“To this we are supporting countries across the Sahel that includes Nigeria to be able to convene an alliance that is able to allow the CSOs especially pastoralists and farmers from the local community to engage with government in achieving the vision of the GGW.
“The GGW covers 11 countries across the Sahel and we have trying as much as possible to get the participation of different stakeholders, CSOs to engage first of all at the regional level and this has been very successful.”
He said earlier in the year that the IUCN had one of the largest gatherings of Civil society groups, with the representatives of governments of the Sahel countries.
Magero said that farmers and pastoralists groups as well as NGOs across the Sahel were represented.
“The first engagement we had is how do civil society get to benefit. At the heart of it is the issue of land degradation.
“So many communities are unable to produce in terms of agriculture the amount of food the need, this is because the agricultural land is becoming poorer and poorer.
“This project intends to address one of those issues through allowing the communities to participate and understand what sustainable land management means to them.”
He said some challenges encountered in the course of carrying out the project include the issue of multiple policies across the different countries and different understanding of what the GGW means in different countries.
According to him, For some countries it is a region, for some countries it is the whole country, so reconciling the different thoughts among the different communities has been a challenge.
Magero said another challenge was the aspect of being able to monitor the project.
“What are the actions that are going to address land degradation and how are we able to bring this information together so that we are able to know the progress being made across the GGW.”
He said the project would be concluded in 2020 adding that they may not be an immediate renewal.
Magero, however, said for the commitment made towards sustainable land management, the IUCN would seek to find some funding and investment in that regard.
The 11 countries in the Sahel -Sahara region that make up the GGW include Djibouti, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Sudan, Chad, Nigeria, Mali, Burkina Faso, Mauritania and Senegal.
The event which was organised by IUCN in conjunction with the National Agency for the Great Green Wall, commenced on Dec. 4 and ended on the Dec. 6.
By Okeoghene Akubuike