Samira Sghaier doesn't have to look far to know times are changing. She sees it right here on the family farm.
There hasn't been enough rain in recent years. A lot of my fruit trees died. Three-quarters of Tunisia is threatened by desertification,
land severely depleted by urbanization, population growth, intensive agriculture and climate change.
It's a problem across North Africa which is getting too little rain and sometimes too much.
Its coastal areas are threatened by rising sea levels. The entire Mediterranean region is considered a climate change hotspot,
more vulnerable to its effects than other places. To the south, encroaching desert, south of the Sahara,
a group of Sahel countries have launched an ambitious Great Green Wall initiative
to plant hardy trees and grasses to fight desertification. The goal is to replant trees to return the Sahel to what it was about 60 years ago
when there was more forest cover. Boetsch believes a similar regional initiative could also take root in north of the Sahara.
Of course it can work but the first problem is water, the second is getting communities to accept the projects.
So far North African countries are fighting desertification individually, restoring oases and planting tough, native plant varieties,
but experts say much more needs to be done. Here in eastern Tunisia, Sghaier and fellow farmers are growing drought-resistant acacia
and moringa trees valued for their health properties, but some of the trees have died and earning a profit isn't easy.
Everybody likes new products, but it's hard to market them. These farmers aren't giving up.
They know climate changes here and they have to act.
Lisa Bryant for VOA news Bir Salah, Tunisia