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Cablegate: President Wade Chairs Nepad Donor Round Table On the Great

VZCZCXRO4754
PP RUEHBZ RUEHDU RUEHGI RUEHJO RUEHMA RUEHMR RUEHPA RUEHRN RUEHTRO
DE RUEHDK #0217/01 0531252
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 221252Z FEB 08 ZDK
FM AMEMBASSY DAKAR
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 0088
INFO RUEHZO/AFRICAN UNION COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
RUEATRS/DEPT OF TREASURY WASHDC
RUCPDOC/USDOC WASHDC
RUEHLMC/MCC WASHDC

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 DAKAR 000217

SIPDIS

DEPT FOR AF/W, AF/EPS, EB/IFD/ODF
ADDIS ALSO FOR U.S. MISSION TO THE AFRICAN UNION

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: EAID EFIN ECON PGOV SG
SUBJECT: PRESIDENT WADE CHAIRS NEPAD DONOR ROUND TABLE ON THE GREAT
GREEN WALL

DAKAR 00000217 001.2 OF 002


1. SUMMARY: A donor round table was held in Saly Portugal, Senegal
on February 12 - 13, 2008 to discuss the implementation of a $10.5
billion "Great Green Wall" that aims to develop a green belt from
Dakar to Djibouti. President Abdoulaye Wade of Senegal, as chairman
of NEPAD's environmental commission hosted the meeting of ministers
and donors. As chair of the donor's working group for the
environment in Senegal, the Director of USAID represented the
donors. The purpose of the round table was to identify the location
of the Great Green Wall, create an institutional mechanism to
monitor progress, and to solicit donor support. No solid proposals
were put forward for new funding, nor was there clarity in the
concept, so donor pledges were noncommittal or limited to current
commitments. END SUMMARY.

BUILDING THE GREAT GREEN WALL
----------------------------
2. The concept for a green wall across Africa to combat
desertification dates back to the early 1970s. Efforts were made
unsuccessfully in Algeria in 1971 and again in 1978 for northern
African countries. The idea was resurrected in July, 2005 by
President Obasanjo of Nigeria during the Fifth Ordinary Summit of
the African Union. The idea was supported by the African Heads of
State and a consultative process was launched to implement the
program. President Wade of Senegal is a strong supporter of this
initiative in his role as chairman of the NEPAD Environmental
Commission.

3. An analytical, conceptual study on the Great Green Wall was
conducted in May 2006 at the request of the Community of Sahel -
Saharan States (CEN-SAD). The conclusion of this document clearly
stated that the concept of a continuous band of trees 5 to 10
kilometers across the continent was "not realistic, financially
expensive, ecologically inefficient and unsustainable." Rather, the
study urged that the Great Green Wall concept be conceived as
collection of sylvo-pastoral management and development activities
that includes protection as well as production activities to improve
livelihoods of rural populations and assure sustainability of
investments.

A WEAK FOUNDATION
----------------------------
4. In stark contrast to the CEN-SAD concept paper, the concept note
distributed at the round table was for a 15 kilometer wide,
multi-species green belt expanding 7,000 kilometers from Dakar to
Djibouti for a cost of $10.5 billion. Senegal also included a
sub-component on retention ponds, another priority of the Wade
administration. The concept note reads more like Senegal plus other
countries, rather than a continental effort through NEPAD. The
existence of two concept papers, each with different recommendations
strengthens this conception. Several participants voiced their
concern over this issue.

4. The round table had poor attendance from ministers representing
other Sahelian countries. The Minister for Environment from Egypt
was one however, that President Wade acknowledged, who indicated
they had long experience in combating desertification and who
offered their expertise to the effort. Representatives from
regional programs dealing directly with desertification such as
ICRISAT and CILSS were not included or part of the debate. Jacques
Diouf, Director General of FAO, attended the meeting and pointed out
that the big issue is not planting trees, but maintaining any
planting after they're in the ground.

5. In spite of these shortcomings, there are some signs that more
sound reasoning will prevail. President Wade recognized that
planting trees at $1 per tree would be prohibitive and is looking
for innovative ways to involve communities and the private sector.
The recommendations adopted by the meeting include taking into
account biodiversity conservation and the full engagement of
communities.

CALL TO DONORS
--------------
5. Though not quite a pledging conference, President Wade pressed
donors to outline their commitment to this initiative. Donors were
united in stating that while they salute the emphasis being placed
on environmental concerns, a clear, realistic concept for the
project needs to be developed that is supported by the concerned
countries. The African Development Bank offered to be the lead
donor in coordinating efforts for the Great Green Wall. Since there
was no basis on which to make pledges, donor's presented their
current environmental initiatives, or those in the pipeline, as
their contribution towards the list of priorities.

COMMENT
-------

DAKAR 00000217 002.2 OF 002


6. As in the recent NEPAD infrastructure round table held in
Senegal, President Wade made sure this NEPAD initiative implicated
Senegal in many of its ambitious proposals. Instead of relying on
high cost public works to solve the real problem of desertification,
African countries should look to those countries such as Niger that
have had success in greening vast arid areas. Empowering local
communities, improving local land tenure rights, encouraging
regeneration of vegetation, fire control and increasing incomes are
all proven solutions to improving vegetation and forest cover in
arid lands.

SMITH

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