15th March 2022
AI-CD Secretariat Support Team
The final conference for the Sahel region of the African Initiative for Combating Desertification (AI-CD) was conducted virtually on 15 March 2022, chaired by the Ministry of Environment and Sustainable Development (MEDD), Senegal as the Sahel regional hub. In attendance were approximately 40 participants composed of the AI-CD Focal Points (FPs) or their representatives from Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Chad, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Nigeria, and Senegal, Kenya as the Horn of Africa regional hub, the Embassy of Japan in Senegal, the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), and international agencies, namely: African Union (AU), African Development Bank (AfDB), Global Environment Facility (GEF), Permanent Interstate Committee for Drought Control in the Sahel (CILSS), Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), and SOS Sahel.
During this event, the significant progress and achievements of AI-CD activities were highlighted from the perspective of Networking, Knowledge Sharing, and Access to Finance while the prospects and challenges for future activities were discussed among the participants. Finally, concrete steps for the way forward were presented.
HIGHLIGHTS OF THE FORUM
(1) Opening Session
First, Mr. Baba Ba, representing the AI-CD Regional Hub for the Sahel region, presented briefly the day’s programme which consisted of discussions among FPs and international agencies. He also noted that the forum was expected to be an occasion to showcase the progress as well as to draw upon a roadmap for a way forward.
Next, His Excellency Osamu Izawa, Ambassador of Japan to Senegal, delivered his greetings and expressed immense pleasure to attend the forum. During his address, he highlighted that this event would not be possible without the close collaboration of different entities. He ended his greetings by giving warmest congratulations to MEDD, JICA, development partners, and FPs.
Mr. Baba Ba then delivered an opening speech on behalf of the Ministry of Environment and Sustainable Development (MEDD). He recalled the AI-CD background, especially its inclusive approach that adopts Networking, Knowledge Sharing of Good Practices, and improving access to finance. He ended with warmest thankful expression to all the participants and declared open the forum.
(2) Progress and Achievements of AI-CD in the Sahel Region and HoA
At the beginning of the session, Mr. Sangare from Sahel Institute (INSAH) and a representative of CILSS reviewed its contribution within the AI-CD framework to disseminate knowledge among member countries. Also, he illustrated the missions of CILSS by presenting the following tools: GEO-AOS Tool for knowledge sharing, and Regional Platform Tool (Digital Library) for capitalising and monitoring best practices. Then, Mr. Hubert, Executive Secretary and also a representative of CILSS, informed the availability of a digital library and suggested working in synergy with relevant actors.
Ms. Josephine Wanjiku, a member of the AI-CD Regional Hub for the HoA region, presented the similarities of the member countries in terms of dryness and land degradation, as well as the progress and achievements of AI-CD since 2016 in the region through conducting workshops, creating the AI-CD Guideline on Combating Desertification and brochures, sharing good practices through a webpage on KEFRI’s website, among others. She also highlighted the consistent network among the HoA counties.
After that, Mr. Baba Ba explained the AI-CD achievements of the Sahel region, namely: the execution of multiple forums, development of project concept notes by the participating countries, and producing two short films on desertification in Mali and Nigeria. Finally, the achievement on the acquisition of FAO fund by Mali was reported, and the way forward to utilise the outcomes of this initiative was summarised.
The AI-CD Secretariat presented the inter-regional achievements through various activities, including regional forums, a webinar on 1 March 2022 organised in collaboration with CILSS, the development of short films, training sessions for capacity building, and so on. The Secretariat also presented the progress of access to finance with the example of Mali’s project as mentioned by Mr. Baba Ba. Finally, the Secretariat expressed his appreciation to development partners and all stakeholders, especially the FPs for their tremendous efforts and gave his recommendation to promote further activities.
(3) Progress and Achievements of AI-CD Member Countries
Mr. Kaba Diallo, the FP of Mali, presented the achievements of the country within the framework of AI-CD, emphasising the development of a short film that aims to contribute to the visibility of AI-CD activities and foster access to finance. Also, he reported the approval by FAO of the project application of a Malian NGO and shared the setup of the AI-CD support group aiming to encourage efforts for sustainable development.
Mr. Dambatia Lazare Tagnabou, the FP of Burkina Faso, shared the outcome of a scientific forum to work in synergy within a national platform in which all information on land degradation is shared. He also presented other activities such as a communal land degradation analysis, a radio broadcast campaign, and an elaboration of two concept notes that were transmitted to development partners for funding. Sharing good practices and fostering permanent actors for land restoration were also presented as ways forward.
The presentation by Ms. Regina O. Nwaneri, the representative of the FP of Nigeria, illustrated successful outcomes, especially the promotion of knowledge sharing of good practices and empowerment for land degradation management, through numerous workshops in the country which covered various themes such as land degradation, desertification, and dry-land resources. Also, she mentioned that AI-CD has assisted in raising people’s awareness on land degradation and expressed her appreciation to JICA.
Mr. Maihouloum Gaou Killadje, the FP of Chad, focused his presentation on the achievement of developing a draft Concept Note for the project on Land Restoration of Terrestrial Ecosystems. He also stressed the outcomes of knowledge sharing and networking under the AI-CD by showing an example of conducting field workshop. Finally, planning activities such as conducting training and creating inventory on land degradation were illustrated.
Mr. Baba Ba, the FP of Senegal, firstly appreciated participation from different stakeholders in the past regional forums. Following this, he expressed that Senegal has acquired numerous project experience within the country under the initiative and had involvement and contributions of local population and associations. The way forward, including an adaptation of technologies and elaboration of inclusive approach, was also shared.
The presentation by Mr. David Payang, the FP of Cameroon, showed the country’s efforts to combat desertification and promote land restoration through participation in different regional forums, conducting workshops, planting trees, as well as collaborating with international agencies like CILSS and JICA that provide needed trainings. He also mentioned an awareness-raising activity for the general public as a way forward.
Due to technical problems, the FPs of Niger and Mauritania were not able to give their presentations. The Secretariat informed that their presentation materials will be shared with the participants.
(4) Opportunities for AI-CD Countries to Accelerate Efforts for Combating Desertification to Strengthen Climate Change Resilience and for Accessing Finance
Mr.Jean-Marc Sinnassamy, the representative of the Global Environment Facility (GEF), delivered a presentation on the current situation of GEF and highlighted the pathway for a fair world on carbon use suggested by the principal funding scheme (GEF-8). Additionally, he introduced a conceptual framework and financial mechanism based on GEF’s integrated programmes including reduction of land degradation.
Mr. Elvis Paul Tangem, the representative of the African Union (AU), introduced funding opportunities in AU within the framework of the Great Green Wall (GGW) that emphasises forest land implementation. He explained the requirement of a monitoring system on the costs and benefits of the investment, and financing mechanisms for forest land restoration. The vision and role of the GGW initiative were finally shared.
Mr. Rivaldo Kpadonou, the representative of the African Development Bank (AfDB), commented on the AfDB’s role as a leading financial institution for programme implementation related to desertification, as well as its strategy to invest in the related themes.
Mr. Hubert, the representative of CILSS, also gave a comment on close collaboration between CILSS and AfDB as well as the current situation of AI-CD that has the resources on techniques and strategies to enable collaborative work with financing institutions.
Following the presentation and comments from several development partners, an open discussion was held. In this session, the significance of the synergistic approach in order to have access to finance was discussed among participants.
(5) Closing Session
Mr. Baba Ba summarised the actions to be taken by AI-CD stakeholders, according to the three pillars of AI-CD, as the ways forward. The Secretary also informed the participants about upcoming important events for AI-CD in 2022 such as COP15 and TICAD 8.
Mr. Takahiro Ikenoue, from Global Environment Department of JICA Headquarters, expressed his deepest gratitude to all stakeholders for enabling the forum to achieve such outcomes.
Finally, Mr. Baba Ba, on behalf of the MEDD, made the closing remark by appreciating the participation of all stakeholders.