Green belt in Ethiopian Highlands creates new life

Hilke Evenepoel & Bart Carlier - BOS+
14 December 2018
In the past rainy season, BOS+ and its partners planted more than 25,000 indigenous trees in the green belt in northern Ethiopia. A solid buffer against climate change and migration.

By 2020, it is expected that desertification alone will force some 60 million people to migrate from sub-Saharan Africa to North Africa or Europe, and this number will only increase in the following decades.

BOS+ and its partners (Trees for Farmers, EthioTrees and WeForest Ethiopia) are therefore committed to the restoration and sustainable management of degraded vegetation in the highlands of Ethiopia, an area plagued by extreme poverty and drought.

 

Work, conflict and climate change

Not only in Ethiopia but also in many other regions of Africa, men, women and children migrate to find work. Some are fleeing conflicts, others are being driven out of their homelands because of climate change. In many cases these three causes overlap.

For climate migrants, the effects of rising temperatures become painfully obvious. Rich soil is no longer fertile, there is sand where trees used to grow, droughts are more frequent and last longer, grass on which cows or goats can graze is becoming scarcer, warmer weather and less rainfall make producing food or raising animals no longer a feasible option.

In Ethiopia (district of Degua Tembien, Tigray), BOS+ therefore participates in the green belt or The Great Green Wall that spans the entire width of the African continent, from Senegal to Djibouti in the horn of Africa.

The green belt fights climate change and its broader effects, prevents conflicts, hunger and drought and tempers migration. In Ethiopia, more than 15 million hectares of land have already been restored.

 

Kaart van Afrika met Groene Muur

 

300 hectares of restoration

BOS+ is convinced that the green belt and the restoration and sustainable management of degraded vegetation are important elements of a broader strategy to absorb the flow of African migrants coming to the coasts of Europe.

We combine our efforts in 9 communities, which have chosen to restore more than 300 ha of degraded forest together in the form of their own exclosures. This means that they can neither let their cattle graze there nor collect firewood. This is quite a challenge for these people who, because of the enormous land pressure, are always looking for the remaining pieces of land.

 

Sustainable management of degraded vegetation is an element to be able to absorb the flow of African migrants coming to the coasts of Europe.

The Great Green Wall

The Green Belt or The Great Green Wall is actually more of a metaphor than a real 'green wall'. Originally designed as a physical barrier of trees on the edge of the desert, it has become in recent years a mix of projects that seek to restore degraded land, combat desertification and generate income from regenerating these areas for local communities.

BOS+ therefore focuses on landless farmers, often young people and women. Together with them we are looking for activities that generate an income from the above-mentioned exclosures and have no impact on the vegetation.

 

 

The local population also benefits from the green belt we put in place there. Together with them, we generate profit for our climate and our biodiversity.

They organise themselves and gain access to a piece of land from the exclosure. They install beehives there and harvest grass for their cow, some goats and sheep.

At the same time they protect the forest, plant the seedlings and look after them. This way they also benefit from the green belt we put in place there. Together with them, we generate profit for our climate and our biodiversity. We're far from finished; wherever you look, you'll see rapidly progressing destruction. But we are optimistic; these green corridors are more than encouraging.

 

Ethiopia Reforestation Migration
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