At Widou, in the middle of the Ferlo region of northern Senegal, there will be no rain till the end of July. At this difficult time of the year most of the zebu, sheep and goats have moved south in search of pasture under the watchful eye of their Peul herdsmen.
The life of the village and the dozens of surrounding hamlets is marked by regular convoys that stop at the well and fill their makeshift tanks. But several hundred metres away, in an open-air laboratory, another story is struggling to make its mark.
In the nursery built by the Senegalese Water and Forestry Agency (OEF) men carrying watering cans are hard at work. Women, bent over rows of little plastic containers, are potting seedlings, ready to be planted at the first sign of rainfall. This year some 390,000 such seedlings will be needed, for Widou is one of the first communities selected by the government to roll out the great green wall (GGW) programme, a pan-African scheme initiated by the African Union in 2007. To halt the advancing desert, it aims to plant a 15 kilometre-wide swath of trees stretching 7,600km across the continent from Dakar to Djibouti. Eleven countries are taking part but Senegal, with 533km of wall on its territory, is the first where the project is really taking shape.
Read more here: Green wall may keep the sand out | Environment | Guardian Weekly.