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Sustainable landscape management for improved livelihoods in the Middle East and North Africa

Program Summary

This PROFOR activity aims to build the necessary evidence base and rationale for developing a regional and harmonized program on landscape restoration and sustainable management in the arid, semi-arid, and desert areas of sub-Saharan Africa, the Maghreb, and the Mashreq.


In MENA and sub-Saharan African countries, there is a growing awareness of the important social, economic and environmental roles played by forests, rangelands, and oasis landscapes. All of these ecosystems face threats from agricultural expansion and increasing demand for food, fiber, fuel, and minerals, as well as misguided agricultural policies.

There is also growing evidence of significant negative externalities from landscape degradation - including the impacts of climate change, biodiversity loss, air pollution, soil erosion, rural poverty, and migration. These issues are gaining political attention at the global, regional, and national levels, but while several initiatives have been launched to combat landscape degradation and strengthen resilience to climate change, more transformative investment is needed.


This activity will first review existing literature on the extent, impact, and economic costs of land degradation and desertification over the last couple of decades in MENA and Sub-Saharan African countries.

Subsequently, the team will assess progress made by national and regional restoration programs, and identify the primary barriers to furthering that progress using PROFOR’s PRIME framework. Other land restoration programs will be evaluated for lessons learned and applicability to the targeted regions, including experiences from China (e.g. the Green Wall Initiative) and the United States (e.g. actions taken to combat the Dust Bowl phenomenon).

Based on this analysis, this activity will explore how the World Bank can best leverage its convening power to bring together (and finance) restoration initiatives. An economic feasibility study will be carried out, looking at the potential for a regional program on landscape restoration and sustainable management.


This project has been completed. Two main reports published:
The two  reports, Sustainable Land Management & Restoration (SLM) and the impacts of Sand and Dust Storms (SDS) in MENA countries have brought together the evidence base to develop a program on land restoration in MENA countries. The SLM report also contained financing options to help decision- and policy-makers advocate for increased efforts to restore land and to introduce one other frequently ignored outcome of severely degraded land - the increased frequency and intensity of sand and dust storms. The associated economic costs of SDS - both in terms of human health and on infrastructure - are enormous and represent a loss that is not normally included in benefit-cost analyses of land restoration programs.
This activity also sponsored 3 inter-regional workshops to develop a MENA Regional Program on Oasis (one major form of land restoration in MENA countries that links directly to improved livelihoods of the poor). The overall objective of the workshops was to initiate discussions, share the experience of countries in North Africa and Mauritania, identify common priorities and develop a regional vision for improved management of oasis landscapes in North Africa in the context of climate change. Through the efforts of the first Oasis project and these workshops, there is now a proposal to establish a Regional Office for the Promotion and Development of Oasis Ecosystems in the North Africa Region and Mauritania. Another outcome of the increased awareness raised through the first Oasis project and these workshops has been a scaled-up effort in Tunisia through the new Sustainable Oasis Landscape Management Project (P169955). The momentum built through these projects and this analytical work can be used to define and expand the Regional Program - and to other forms of landscape restoration.

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Last Updated : 06-08-2020