Want to Heal Africa’s Degraded Land? Go Local

The magic that can restore Africa’s degraded forests, farms and pastures is in the millions of local champions across the continent, especially youth and women

In Kenya and Niger, the countries that we call home, the land is hurting. Across Africa, land degradation is threatening the health of 1 billion people, eroding opportunity just as it erodes the soil. That crisis is compounded by the impact of COVID-19, which could push a further 49 million people into extreme poverty.

But this is not the future that we foresee for Africa’s vital landscapes. We see thousands of communities healing forests, farms, and pasture across 100 million hectares of land, an area the size of Egypt, by 2030.

What makes us believe in this bright future? First, African countries have already made high-level political commitments to restore those 100 million hectares through the AFR100 Initiative. Some have even developed national plans for restoration.

Second, investors increasingly understand that restoring landscapes is a nature-based solution that pays off, providing $7-30 in benefits for every $1 invested. At the One Planet Summit in January, they committed over $14 billion USD to restore the Sahel through the Great Green Wall.

Political and financial mobilization is important. But the magic that can restore Africa’s degraded farms, forests, and pasture is in the millions of local champions across the continent, especially youth and women.

We need to help them bring back water, food, income, and energy to their homes. That’s the lesson we can learn from Nobel Prize laureate Wangari Maathai: The only way to restore 100 million hectares of land is by empowering thousands of local communities. So how can we do it? Read more…

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