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FEATURE STORY

TerrAfrica: Building the Resilience of Land and Livelihoods in a Changing Climate

December 1, 2015


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Andrea Borgarello for World Bank / TerrAfrica

STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • The TerrAfrica Partnership brings together key actors in African countries across sectors, borders and faiths; and development partners, including the World Bank, to address land degradation and build resilient landscapes.
  • As part of TerrAfrica, the World Bank supports cutting edge analytical work; knowledge sharing and innovation; as well as large scale land restoration that contributes to sustained poverty reduction and economic development.
  • A new initiative, supported by TerrAfrica, to restore 100 million hectares of degraded land in Africa by 2030 is being launched at the UNCCD COP in Paris.

The ways in which Africa’s natural resources are managed have a direct impact on countries’ ability to meet development objectives. Over 30 percent of the income of the poorest population quintile in Sub-Saharan Africa is derived from forest and environmental resources, making them particularly vulnerable to resource degradation exacerbated by the impacts of climate. Excluding deserts, salt pans, lakes and mountains, soil degradation affects more than 22 percent of the continent’s land. This impacts the ability of land to cycle nutrients, filter and absorb water, and maintain vegetative cover – and threatens therefore, millions of families’ ability to feed themselves and thrive.

Innovative approaches to land degradation

A decade of interventions, supported by the TerrAfrica partnership, has shown that the fight against land degradation is achievable and replicable at scale. Created in 2005 with the support of the World Bank and other partners, TerrAfrica brings together African countries and partners to share a common vision, exchange knowledge, and scale up investment for transformative results. The African Union NEPAD, as Secretariat of TerrAfrica, with strong support from the World Bank and partners including the EU and the Governments of the Netherlands and Norway, used its convening power to bring forward-thinking and innovative approaches to land degradation.

"A colossal amount of human energy is being deployed to overcome the obstacles of land degradation, with the ultimate goal of achieving sustainable development for Africa. The main result has been the generation of an ambitious agenda to scale up landscape initiatives, by integrating policies and services required from land, biodiversity, water and other resources, while addressing critical issues such as climate change, land degradation, poverty, and resource scarcity,” said Ibrahim Mayaki, Executive Secretary of the Africa Union NEPAD Planning and Coordinating Agency.


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" As the TerrAfrica Partnership is celebrating its 10 year anniversary, its mandate is as relevant as before in the face of the growing impacts of climate change that exacerbate existing resource management challenges that Africa is facing. These challenges are particularly serious in Africa’s drylands which are highly vulnerable economically, ecologically, and socially.  "

Magda Lovei

World Bank Practice Manager for Environment and Natural Resources

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In connection with TerrAfrica, the World Bank has supported several large-scale landscape restoration projects:

  • In Ethiopia, large-scale restoration of land has transformed the lives and livelihoods of 30 million people. This was done through a government program partly supported by the World Bank that put 15 million hectares of communal and individual lands to more productive use. Technologies such as hills terrace, soil bunds and water harvesting have significantly enhanced soil moisture, accelerated plant growth and regeneration and replenished groundwater and spring flows.
  • In Niger, 60 million trees were planted over a 12-year period in the 1980s and 1990s, mainly through farmer-managed natural regeneration. By 2005, five million hectares or nearly half of the cropland in Niger have been regenerated. By 2010, the increased density of trees on farms was benefiting 4.5 million people, and enabling them to become less vulnerable and more resilient to periodic droughts.
During its 10 years of experience, TerrAfrica supported the implementation of two major investment programs: the 2008 Strategic Investment Program which mobilized over $1 billion to address land degradation in Africa, through 36 projects and programs; and the 2011 World Bank/GEF Sahel & West Africa Program in support of the Great Green Wall Initiative, a $1.1 billion program that promotes sustainable land-use practices in 12 countries to build the resilience of ecosystems and livelihoods (Twelve country investments in Benin, Burkina Faso, Chad, Ethiopia, Ghana, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Nigeria, Senegal, Sudan and Togo supported by a regional hub project Building Resilience though Innovation, Communication and Knowledge Services(BRICKS). On December 1, 2015, the World Bank announced its intention to scale-up its support to the Great Green Wall Initiative with an additional $1.9 billion investment.
 
“As the TerrAfrica Partnership is celebrating its 10 year anniversary, its mandate is as relevant as before in the face of the growing impacts of climate change that exacerbate existing resource management challenges that Africa is facing. These challenges are particularly serious in Africa’s drylands which are highly vulnerable economically, ecologically, and socially. ” said Magda Lovei, World Bank Practice Manager for Environment and Natural Resources, who is overseeing the program. “We need to step up our efforts to build on past successes and innovative solutions”. 
 

Looking Ahead for Commitment to Large Scale Restoration

To further these achievements, TerrAfrica, in collaboration with the World Bank, the World Resources Institute, African centers of excellence and others, will launch the African Resilient Landscapes Initiative on December 6, 2015, at the Global Landscapes Forum on the sidelines of the UNFCCC COP in Paris. The initiative commits to restore 100 million hectares of degraded land by 2030 and presents an opportunity to scale up and leverage interventions across different land and natural resources uses to maximize ecological and economic gains.

“Through this Initiative, we expect that land actors and policymakers will recognize the importance of moving beyond single-sector interventions towards an integrated landscape approach,” says Paola Agostini, Global Lead for Landscapes, World Bank. “This approach has real potential to make landscapes more resilient and productive, so that future generations will continue to benefit“. 


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