Minister for Development Cooperation Miriam Ketter (Forweet) has allocated 50 million euros for the Belgian Climate Program in the Sahel. She announced this yesterday during a meeting with the Minister of Environment of Burkina Faso, Simeon Sawadogo. The program aims to restore the fertility of 10,000 hectares of land – or about 20,000 football fields – in Burkina Faso, Senegal, Niger and Mali.
Minister Kotair is currently on a working visit to Africa. Today she is traveling to Senegal and has spent the past two days in Burkina Faso. Climate change dominates the minister’s trip. I met on this subject with the Minister of Environment of Burkina Faso last night. In the presence of the latter, Minister Ketter announced that it would provide 50 million euros over five years for the Belgian Regional Climate Program for the Sahel.
The coast is the strip that runs horizontally across the entire African continent, separating the humid equatorial region in the south from the Sahara Desert in the north. The region is particularly sensitive to climate change and suffers from desertification. An estimated 80 percent of the land is already degraded. This has consequences for local agriculture and population. The locals, who mostly live off agriculture, see their yields decline due to drought.
“The situation is clearly deteriorating.”
“Here in the Sahel, you can literally see the situation deteriorating,” Minister Ketter said. “You can see meter by meter the winner: extreme drought or people. With this climate program we can make a difference for a lot of people.”
This is the first time that Belgium has invested in a regional program with a special focus on international climate action. The 50 million euros issued by the minister will be distributed over five years and will be allocated to Burkina Faso, Senegal, Mali and Niger. The intent is to re-fertilize 10,000 hectares of land – or about 20,000 football fields. This should be done through increased investment in improving rainwater storage and planting trees. For example, the minister wants to better arm the local population against the consequences of climate change.
“The goal is primarily to make the situation better for the people who are feeling the hardest climate change. But in fact we all benefit from this. For example, by planting trees collectively, we are reducing carbon dioxide emissions. And that is what we are all about,” said Minister Mariam Qatir. “For everyone’s benefit.”
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