The objective of the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) is to combat desertification and mitigate the effects of drought in countries experiencing serious drought and/or desertification around the world, particularly in Africa, through effective action at all levels, supported by international cooperation and partnership arrangements. The Global Mechanism is an institution of the UNCCD, mandated to assist countries in the mobilization of financial resources from public and private sector for activities that prevent, control or reverse desertification, land degradation and drought. As the operational arm of the Convention, the Global Mechanism supports countries to translate the Convention into action.
The continued degradation of the Sahelian landscape is jeopardizing rural livelihoods and economic development in the region. Agriculture, livestock and forestry provides the income and employment for more than 80% of the population of this region, and land-based activities generate most of the wealth. However, in the Sahelian countries, land degradation leads to an annual decline of nearly 3% of agricultural production, compromising food security and increasing the vulnerability of millions of people, particularly in rural areas.
In this context, the Global Mechanism developed a project proposal ‘Creating lands of opportunities: transforming livelihoods through landscape restoration in the Sahel’ (Sahel Opportunities Project) to be supported through a grant from the Government of Italy. The project aims to make a significant and sustainable contribution towards landscape restoration in the Sahel while creating income generating activities for local communities in Ghana, Burkina Faso and Niger. The project seeks to strengthen communities’ resilience to climate change and desertification through the provision of incentives to invest in the rehabilitation of degraded lands in the Sahel region. It will contribute to slowing the rural exodus and subsequent migration to Europe exacerbated by desertification, land degradation and drought by rehabilitating lands and through the creation of land-based income and job opportunities in communities in three selected countries in West Africa Sahel with emphasis on the promotion of productive agricultural value-chains of drylands products.
More broadly, the project will also contribute to achieving the bold vision of the Great Green Wall Initiative in supporting local communities to adapt and build resilience to climate change, as well as boost food security and spur economic growth. In addition, the project will support countries in achieving Land Degradation Neutrality (LDN) through addressing underlying vulnerabilities and build resilience to future shocks (climatic and conflict-related). This implies avoiding further land degradation, mitigating and therefore compensating unavoidable land degradation due to agricultural and urban development needs and restoring as much as possible already degraded land.
Additionally, the UNCCD is supporting the development of the Sahel Initiative, a broader program to highlight the Sahel’s potential through the large-scale mobilization of communities, social groups and networks to accelerate installation of clean energy, restore degraded lands and catalyze the development of rural enterprise across the Sahel belt, with a special focus on youth and women. Given the close alignment between the Sahel Opportunities Project and the Sahel Initiative, the Senior Project Officer will also undertake activities in support of the Initiative.