Against the worrying desertification of Africa, what can COP15 do?

The desert is advancing, men are retreating!

More than a simple joke, it is a sentence that falls like a cleaver, as noted by the host of COP15, Alassane Ouattara [le président de la Côte d’Ivoire, où s’est ouvert le 9 mai ce sommet consacré à la désertification, en présence de plusieurs chefs d’État africains], “in a context of climate emergency which is having a severe impact on our land management policies and exacerbating the phenomenon of drought”.

Statistics in hand, the Ivorian president took advantage of the platform offered to him to paint a picture, perhaps not apocalyptic, but very worrying of the situation, evoking the degradation of the soil which affects 52% of agricultural land and threatens 2, 6 billion people, causing the loss, at the same time, of 12 million hectares of arable land. It is therefore logical that we must salute this great gathering intended to try, once again, to save Africa and planet Earth, “our common home”, as Pope Francis so aptly baptized it.

Avoid a raout for nothing

In any case, it’s time for a good ten days of reflection and promises of money and actions, to make COP15 a conference-plus and not too much folklore.

Fight against desertification and soil degradation. This is therefore the immense challenge facing COP15, the fifteenth conference of the parties to the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification, hosted by Côte d’Ivoire from 9 to 20 May. There is no need to recall the relevance of this meeting, which will bring together, in addition to the dozen Heads of State from Africa and elsewhere, no less than 5,000 participants.

This rout for the environment already has the merit of having brought back to its rightful place the issue of the fight against desertification and soil degradation, which has for too long been overshadowed by the terrorist threat and the Covid-19 pandemic.

Question: is there a worse terrorist than the binomial desertification and soil degradation, which abundantly feeds poverty by starving the African populations, the majority of whom, agriculturalists, live off the bounty of the earth?

Unfortunately, it is in this Africa where everything still remains a priority, because it lacks almost everything, that men continue to light large bush fires, destroyers par excellence of fauna and flora, and therefore of the environment. It is still in the tropics that the abusive cutting of trees provides women with firewood and charcoal for cooking.

It is always this same Africa which bears the brunt of the devastating effects of climate change, whose authors, these limitless polluters, are these great powers launched in a frantic race for industrialization, which supply factories operating non-stop and whose emissions are inexorably destroying the Earth’s protective ozonosphere.

What about the polluter-pays principle which has never benefited Africa, which awaits, like Godot, the promises of homeopathic financing from the wealthy countries, in its efforts, real or feigned, in the fight for the protection of the environment? ?

The inevitable desertification of Africa?

Since independence, therefore more than sixty years ago, Côte d’Ivoire has recalled its president, has lost 80% of its forest cover and is therefore requesting, as a contribution from donors, 1.5 billion of dollars [1,42 milliard d’euros] over five years, to enable it to restore its degraded land and enhance agricultural productivity over time.

As for Mohamed Bazoum, the President of Niger – a country which is home to a population living 80% from agriculture and whose rainfall vagaries and harsh climate are practically hostile to man – he plans to plant 5,000 trees a year in the framework of the erection, from west to east of the continent, of the “great green wall”, this initiative designed to fight effectively against desertification in Africa. All leaders and their peoples undoubtedly expect promising prospects from COP15.

But Africans must also do their part, those whose politicians are transforming reforestation campaigns into electoral campaigns. Indeed, rather than being true actions to re-green cities and towns, tree plantings instead drain endless lines of 4×4 cars, in which coolers full of cold beer drip onto wrappers of braised chickens. succulents.

And, in these highly publicized ceremonies whose budget is devoted more to the visibility of the planters of a weekend, the plants planted are abandoned to the voracious appetite of the wandering animals. Until the next tree planting, not to say the next picnic! However, we must save the planet, for us, and especially for future generations!

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