The Great Green Wall Initiative (GGWI) is revitalizing an 8,000-kilometer stretch across the Sahara and the Sahel. It aspires to restore degraded lands, foster job creation and enhance carbon sequestration on the African continent. The United Nations Volunteers (UNV) programme avails volunteer talent to partners to deliver on these ambitions. One of these partners is the UN Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD).
Seven UN Volunteers are serving with UNCCD and the Panafrican Agency for the GGWI in West and Central Africa. They are based in Burkina Faso, Chad, Côte d'Ivoire, Mali, Mauritania, Niger and Senegal. Their collective endeavors exemplify how the GGWI goes beyond 'simply' planting trees. It aims to improve livelihoods and combat climate change on a continental scale.
With the GGWI on the cusp of becoming a game-changer for Africa, UN Volunteers are at the fore, ensuring that every stakeholder's commitment translates into tangible progress. Their dedication and contributions reinforce the significance of the GGWI in revitalizing the region, safeguarding ecosystems and fostering sustainable development. --Veronique Zidi-Aporeigah, Manager of the UNV Regional Office for West and Central Africa
Christiane Rivuzumwami Kaze, aged 39, is one of these national UN Volunteers, hailing from Côte d'Ivoire. Another is El Moctar Mohamed Yahya from Mauritania, who is 64 years old.
Christiane joined UNCCD as a UN Volunteer Communications Officer in April 2022 to support the 15th Conference of the Parties (COP15) in Abidjan, Côte d'Ivoire. Leveraging her training as a journalist, she utilized her extensive network to engage local and regional Francophone journalists and facilitate their accreditation.
Christiane also promoted the critical importance of the conference's agenda among the wider public. One event she supported was a live talk held with Melchiade Bukuru, Director of the UNCCD liaison office at United Nations headquarters in New York. This was broadcast on RTI1 national television in Côte d'Ivoire, creating a clear distinction in the media between UNCCD's COP 15 and the more widely recognized climate change conferences.
Additionally, Christiane contributed to several global campaigns. One of these was Droughtland, a fictional drought-stricken nation unveiled by UNCCD last year to spark a global conversation on the devastating impact of drought. The campaign featured what life in Droughtland could be like, delivering the message that no nation or community should have to face such a crisis. The campaign website received over two million visitors, and the hashtag #NoDroughtland was mentioned over 50 million times on Twitter from 17 May to 29 June 2022.
This year, we launched a significant campaign, Her Land Her Rights, in March 2023. In collaboration with partners, activists and influencers, we are highlighting successful examples of women and girls contributing to sustainable land management. UNCCD is calling to action to secure land rights for women and girls worldwide, and I am inspired to be part of the team. --Christiane Rivuzumwami Kaze, UN Volunteer Communications Officer with UNCCD, Côte d'Ivoire
Meanwhile, in Mauritania, El Moctar is a senior national UN Volunteer Expert with the National Agency of the Great Green Wall. Since January 2023, he has been primarily responsible for resource mobilization. This is essential to achieve the ambitious goals of the agency for land restoration, natural resource management and improving the living conditions and resilience of local communities and ecosystems.
Since he started with the agency in late January, El Moctar has consistently demonstrated remarkable technical expertise, interpersonal skills and a receptive mindset. These qualities have empowered him to accomplish important tasks quickly and effortlessly within a remarkably short timeframe. --Sidna Ould Ahmed Ely, Director General of the National Agency of the Great Green Wall, Mauritania
Among El Moctar's achievements are the launch of the National Coalition for the Great Green Wall and designing a training and awareness programme for its members. He also played a pivotal role in finalizing a funding agreement with the French Development Agency and preparing the agency's contribution to the Environment Group of Development Partners meeting, held last March.
El Moctar brings significant years of experience to his assignment, including as a UN Volunteer and with the governance cluster of the UN Development Programme (UNDP).
My experience as a UN Volunteer has been rewarding and exciting, due to its result-oriented nature and service to noble causes. My efforts have already sparked a new dynamic within the national agency, enhancing its work in areas beyond my assigned mission. It is my hope that these efforts lead to a positive impact on communities impacted by desertification and drought. --El Moctar Mohamed Yahya, national UN Volunteer Resource Mobilization Expert with UNCCD, Mauritania