Sustainable Land Management in the Sahel: Lessons from the Sahel and West Africa Program in Support of the Great Green Wall


Stirrett Wood, George Henry; Reij, Chris; Winterbottom, Bob


March 29, 2021

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This report documents the key outcomes and lessons learned from the Sahel and West Africa Program in support of the Great Green Wall (SAWAP) from 2012 to 2019. The SAWAP was a programmatic approach developed by the World Bank using 100 million dollars of GEF resources on the top of 1.2 billion dollars IDA resources for twelve countries: Benin, Burkina Faso, Chad, Ethiopia, Ghana, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Nigeria, Senegal, Sudan, and Togo.

A regional project named "BRICKS" for Building Resilient, Information, Communication, and Knowledge Services project (4.6 million dollars) was included focusing on coordination and knowledge. SAWAP was approved in 2012 "to expand sustainable land and water management (SLWM) in targeted landscapes and in climate vulnerable areas in West African and Sahelian countries". The following review takes into account outcomes from six national projects already closed and six national projects that will be closing by 2022. In terms of outcomes, the SAWAP projects have surpassed their initial cumulative targets establishing 1.6 million hectares (ha) of SLWM practices across the twelve countries (an area larger than Lebanon), with success stories particularly in Ethiopia, Niger, Nigeria, and Sudan. The number of project beneficiaries has been far exceeded with more than 19.4 million of beneficiaries.

At the macro level, the SAWAP program has demonstrated success in some difficult country contexts. While two of its outcomes were largely surpassed, two outcomes (Normalized Difference Vegetative Index and carbon accumulation rates in biomass and soil) faced methodological problems. Overall, the positive effect of the SAWAP was demonstrated for a variety of land categories (rangelands in Chad, Senegal, and Sudan; tree cover in Burkina Faso, Ethiopia, and Ghana), and SAWAP also contributed to convene institutions, vet and share information, improve incentives and understand how to scale up investment. In terms of success stories, the Ethiopian Sustainable Land Management Project 2 (SLMP2) appears as a transformative landscape project to scale up SLWM investments.

This project applied a highly decentralized and participatory process to mobilize SLWM investments in more than 550,000 ha. The Ethiopia SLMP2 was fully SLWM focused with more than 30 million dollars in financing, addressing root-causes of land degradation, including tenure insecurity with the issuance of land certificates to more than 360,200 households. Development partners can learn much from the achievements of the Ethiopia SLMP2, one of the main lessons being that this project benefitted from many prior years of investment in SLM In Nigeria, NEWMAP too has been a success; although the entry point, peri urban gullies mostly, is different from other projects that focus on restoring productive agricultural lands, this entry point was and is the priority in Nigeria's UNCCD National Action Programme. As the urban-peri-urban areas increase across Africa, the NEWMAP experience should provide valuable insights.

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