‘AFRICA’S GREAT GREEN WALL’ – A SHALOM PERSPECTIVE

By Esther Kibe, MA, Shalom Communication Office, Nairobi, Kenya.
 
‘AFRICA’S GREAT GREEN WALL’; THE DREAM BECOMING REALITY HAS COMMENCED.

WHERE? The southern perimeter of the Sahara Desert; a 15 km deep configuration of trees and supportive cultivation stretching 8000 km from Senegal in the west to Djibouti in the east.

A part of the African Map showing the Great Green Wall running from Senegal to Djibouti, is reproduced below. The Great Green Wall for the Sahara and the Sahel Initiative (GGWSSI) is an African Project launched in 2008 by the UN Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD), and the African Union (AU). An epic and a great symbol of hope that runs across thirteen nations in the continent is aimed at providing: security, food, jobs and a future for the millions of people who live in a region on the front line of climate change. This objective will be achieved through tackling the detrimental social, economic and environmental impacts of land degradation and desertification in the region.

The UNCCD and the AU endeavor to partner with different nations and organizations in the actualization of the initiative. Shalom (SCCRR) is already engaged in the process; it has the peace-development expertise, practitioners and commitment in word and deed to play a key role in this essential human and environmental security project. Recently, the Irish Government has become involved, engaging also with the “Laudato Tree Project” in Ireland initiated by the SMA, and commendably propagated, in particular by Mr. Don Mullan.

While some nations and people of good will have risen to the analytical and logistical interventions required for the Great Green Wall in Africa, more need to do so. Shalom (SCCRR) through its interventions in Africa, and the significant presentations and lectures by Fr. Patrick Devine on issues of conflict transformation, peacebuilding, environmental security, religious ideological extremism, interreligious dia-praxis, integral human development, etc., continues to champion this African Dream (for example, see the article below by Dr. Gladys Ganiel, Queens University Belfast). His affirmative advocacy with Ministers Joe McHugh and Denis Naughten, animating the Irish Government to respond positively to the United Nations invitation requesting Ireland to adopt an international leadership role in promoting the Great Green Wall, has been publicly acknowledged.

Africa’s Great Green Wall

Shalom thanks the Irish Government for the positive response in respect to its belief, leadership, strategy and investment in the future of this remarkable continent and its people. Recently, at the 19th AMECEA Plenary Assembly, attended by approximately 400 key influential religious, peace and development actors, hosted at the United Nations Center in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, Fr. Patrick emphasized not only the urgent need but also the profound life-giving merits of the initiative. He stressed that the project deserves their urgent partnership and that of the global community. The outgoing Secretary General of AMECEA, Fr Ferdinand Lugonzo, in expressing his appreciation, said the inputs of Fr. Devine to the Plenary Assembly were very enlightening because, “they were fact based, and the substantial links bridging the philosophical underpinnings of ‘environmental security’, ‘Laudato SI’ and the ‘Great Green Wall’ were emphasized”. Concerning his overall presentation he said it “helped AMECEA to think of ways through which they could give concrete response to the conflicts experienced in many of the member countries”.

According to Fr. Devine, “the Great Green Wall needs committed and visionary leadership at local, national, regional, continental and global levels. The involvement of authentic project centered advocates and qualified peace and development practitioners at management level is of critical importance. Even though the possible pitfalls and threats are many, consider the implications of the failure to rise to this challenge for Africa and the wider world! On the other hand imagine the magnanimous benefits for the dignity of humanity and the environment! Shalom (SCCRR) is absolute in its conviction that this emerging new “Wonder of the World” will help address the root causes of environmental degradation, climate change, war, poverty, internally displaced persons, migrants, and refugees, among others, throughout Africa and beyond. It is an embryonic foundation of hope for achieving sustainable peace and development in Africa and beyond. Most of Africa’s problems need to be primarily transformed on the ground by competent and dedicated Africans who have patriotism evident from the grassroots up.

It is interesting and laudable, that it is predominantly the women of West Africa who are giving birth and weaning the project’s dream to reality. International Aid should take note, as far too often some motives can seem to have other agendas or are somewhat internally driven by the need of organization’s own resilience needs and those managing them! The motivation going forward must be guided by a mindset of addressing root causes as distinct from persistently just attending to recurrent symptoms. In this regard, the “peace-development-human security nexus” is the key framework to be applied to the empirical analysis of the Great Green Wall context problems, and the project’s vision. It is the fundamental basis for ensuring interventions are enlightened, structured, and strategically implemented.

Furthermore, to avoid the ever present danger of an ignorance of arrogance and an arrogance of ignorance, a modus operandi of dia-praxis needs to pervade the interactions of governance, policy makers, specializations, practitioners, as they embrace the wisdom of local communities. The up-surge to ‘Africa’s Great Green Wall ‘continues; a wonder of life and beauty unfolding”. “Salaam-Shalom, Shalom-Salaam!”

TO READ DR. GLADYS GANIEL’S ARTICLE ON THE GREAT GREEN WALL, PLEASE CLICK HERE.