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IFAD, GCF sign new US$143 million investment to restore Great Green Wall ecosystems, increase climate resilience in Sahel Africa

  • The investment initiative will operate in seven countries: Burkina Faso, Chad, The Gambia, Mali, Mauritania, Niger and Senegal

The UN’s International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) and the Green Climate Fund (GCF) on Monday at the at the UN climate change conference (COP26) signed a grant agreement for a new US$143 million investment programme to restore Great Green Wall ecosystems and increase climate resilience in Sahel Africa.

The agreement will specifically ensure that millions of the most at-risk rural people living in the Sahel region of West Africa can adapt to climate change, with a wide-reaching plan to restore degraded land and provide climate information systems and agricultural insurance.

The investment initiative, tagged Africa Integrated Climate Risk Management Programme, will operate in seven countries: Burkina Faso, Chad, The Gambia, Mali, Mauritania, Niger and Senegal. This is part of the African-led Great Green Wall (GGW) initiative which aims to restore degraded landscapes in the Sahel, one of the world’s poorest regions.

“Small-scale farmers urgently need investments to adapt to the impacts of climate change, especially in the Sahel region where their lives and livelihoods are under enormous threat. With financial support, infrastructure and access to technology, we can help create a new generation of climate -resilient farmers and rural communities in the Sahel,” said Gilbert F. Houngbo, President of IFAD.

“Our partnership with IFAD will help build the Great Green Wall to ensure vulnerable rural communities in Africa can shape their own futures in a warming world. GCF’s $82.8 million investment will enhance climate resilience in the Sahel by helping smallholder farmers access agricultural insurance and strengthen climate weather information services,” said Yannick Glemarec, Executive Director of Green Climate Fund.

The Sahel is one of the regions most vulnerable to the impacts of climate change. Temperatures there are expected to rise 1.5 times faster than in the rest of the world. Research from the Sahel shows that the climate is getting drier and the rainy season is becoming shorter and more intense, and moving later in the year. This means farmers are no longer sure when to sow and when to harvest. The increased frequency of extreme weather events, like drought and flooding, can cause a decline in production by as much as 30 percent, and increased humidity can lead to more diseases affecting crops and livestock.

Through this programme, IFAD will work with the African Development Bank (AfDB), the World Food Programme (WFP) and the African Risk Capacity (ARC) Group to address climate-related agriculture risks at every stage. Investments in climate information and early warning systems will limit impacts on farmers before a crisis occurs; climate-resilient farming techniques and better adaption measures will assist farmers to adapt during a crisis; and loss and damage will be reduced with access to agricultural insurance.

The programme has received a $82.8 million grant from GCF and $60.4 million in co-financing from IFAD, AfDB and ARC. About 5.4 million small-scale farmers and rural people in the seven African countries are expected to become better adapted to climate change and increase their resilience to climate events. This programme aims to restore ecosystems, increase food security, create jobs and promote peacebuilding in the Great Green Wall areas. It is expected to result in the reduction or avoidance of approximately 21.4 million tonnes of carbon dioxide over the life of the programme.

“Predictable funding is critical to effectively addressing the human impacts of natural disaster risks, especially for smallholder farmers and their families. The multi-agency approach we have adopted to implementing this programme will strengthen smart partnerships towards building climate resilience and adaptation in the region,” said Ibrahima Cheikh Diong, Director-General of the African Risk Capacity Group.

While it is a new partner to the GGW initiative, IFAD brings 40 years of experience working with vulnerable rural populations in the Sahel and has a proven track record on support climate-resilient agriculture in the Sahel with ongoing investments amounting to $480 million in the GGW area.

A statement on the signing initiative by IFAD notes: “Endorsed by the African Union in 2007, the GGW is one of the earliest international land restoration initiatives that brings together African countries and international partners, under the leadership of the AU and the Pan-African Agency of the Great Green Wall (PAA).

“A broad set of African and international partners are involved in the initiative through project implementation and development, or through the funding of several ongoing and future projects in all GGW countries. The GGW goes through Senegal, Mauritania, Mali, Burkina Faso, Niger, Nigeria, Chad, Sudan, Ethiopia, Eritrea, and Djibouti.”

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