Date of Award

5-2014

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science

Major

Geography

Major Professor

Carol P. Harden

Committee Members

Ronald Foresta, Robert Washington-Allen

Abstract

The north-central region of Senegal is home to the Great Green Wall (GGW)—a reafforestation project aimed at restoring decades–old, degraded land conditions by establishing tree belts and community gardens. Its presence on the ground has changed the local landscape and altered the social institutions governing the daily lives of the people it aims to protect.

My study is an in-progress assessment of the GGW towards its two major goals: 1) improving the lives of the people of the Sahel and increasing their capacity to adapt to climate change and drought, and 2) improving the state of the ecosystem and increasing its resiliency to climate change and variability. Using field experiences, semi-structured interviews, and personal observations, I investigated the progress of the GGW towards its environmental and social goals in Senegal.

The young trees planted as part of the GGW have begun making environmental impacts in terms of decreasing land–surface temperatures and incident solar radiation. These changes yield improving environmental conditions capable of diversifying the economic livelihoods of the Sahelian people, as proposed by the second goal of the project.

The GGW goal of improving the lives of the people of the Sahel is characteristically hard to define, and the social impacts of the GGW at the village level are quite varied. The gardening and economic components seem to have made the most positive difference in the village. Problems with water and grazing areas, however, have prompted negative perspectives of the GGW by village-level stakeholders. Longer termed studies are encouraged to document the changes of these social impacts and how they infuence the efficacy of the initiative as a whole.

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