The Sahara and Sahel Observatory, represented by its Executive Secretary, Mr Nabil Ben Khatra took part in the 7th Session of the Ministerial Council of the Pan-African Agency of the Great Green Wall (PAAGGW) as a member institution of its Experts Technical Committee, held in Nouakchott on July 29, 2021.
The works of the session were opened by Mrs Mariem Bekaye, Minister of Environment and Sustainable Development (MESD) of Mauritania and President of the PAAGGW Ministerial Council. Mrs Bekaye highlighted the particular vulnerability of the Sahara-Sahel area where the populations live in a precarious situation of poverty, food and nutritional insecurity, unemployment, forced migration and recurrent conflicts. She underlined that the Sahel arid area is one of the regions that are most affected by climate change in the world.
The Executive Secretary of the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification, Mr Ibrahim Thiaw specified that gathering these bodies is a great opportunity to reaffirm the new approach of the Great Green Wall Initiative, namely a rural development program integrating environmental, economic and social components. He stressed that the Great Green Wall new approach must thus be part of the post-COVID recovery programs and development plans.
Mr Nabil Ben Khatra and Mr Mohamedou Ould Baba Sy, OSS Hydrogeology Expert, Information, Modeling and Training System Manager in the Water Sector took the opportunity to attend the Steering Committee meeting of the “Large-scale assessment of land degradation to guide future investments in sustainable land management in the countries of the Great Green Wall” project. This project provides support to the efforts of the Great Green Wall Initiative (GGWI) for the Sahara and Sahel on land degradation and desertification reversal in the Sahel and Sahara region, strengthening food security and local communities supporting adaptation to climate change. The initiative is funded by the Global Environment Facility (GEF) and implemented by the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP).
On this occasion Mr Nabil Ben Khatra paid H.E. Mrs Mariem Bekaye, Minister of Environment and Sustainable Development of Mauritania a courtesy visit where he expressed his appreciation for the warm welcome, the commitment of Mauritania in the implementation of the OSS projects and for the clearance of Mauritania's contribution to the OSS operating budget. The discussions mainly focused on the OSS projects involving Mauritania and on new prospects for MESD-OSS collaboration.
At the end of this visit, the Minister requested specific OSS support to MESD, particularly in terms of monitoring-evaluation, natural resources monitoring and remote sensing. Thus, a remote sensing training mission will be held for the benefit of the Ministry Executives and in particular the new Directorate for the Protection of Species and Resources. Her Excellency expressed the wish to see this Directorate involved in the GMES project activities. This will help them contribute to the validation of the OSS-produced Atlas on land use and to the valuation of the tools developed within the framework of the GMES & Africa project, in particular bush fires sensing. Besides, the Minister stated that having information on land use helps in arbitrations with other ministries. The OSS will provide the MESD with the GMES products available.
In his turn, Mr Nabil Ben Khatra claimed that the OSS will have Mauritania involved in the current phase of the Copernicea project, in particular within the framework of the training due on August in Senegal. The OSS will provide the MESD with the products and have it involved in the later phase of the project.