Packet Four, The Sahara and the Sahel

Packet Four
The Sahara and the Sahel

Deadline, Mar. 27, 160 points. 

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For this assignment you may choose any nation in northern or western Africa - essentially from Egypt west and south around the continent to Ghana. You may also select Mali.





Part One - The Great Green Wall: stopping desertification


Satellite view of the Sahara

Description - The Sahel

The Sahel is the arid region south of the Sahara. Right now the desert is spreading. This is happening eventhough the surface of the ground - the sand for which the Sahara is famous, is not moving much at all. The lands near the Sahara are simply drying out. Vegetation and animals are dying. This process is known as desertification and it is forcing many thousands of people to abandon their farms and villages.

Many nations in the Sahel, with the help of European countries, have begun an effort to block the desertificaiton. This project is known as the Great Green Wall. It is an attempt to plant a row of trees about 12 miles wide and 5,000 miles long across Africa south of the Sahara.

For part one of this packet we will learn a little bit about the Great Green Wall.


We will identify and explain key features of the Great Green Wall.

Students will be able to identify the location of the Great Green Wall.

Students will identify and explain the rationale behind building the Great Green Wall.

Essential questions

  1. How can nations in the Sahel slow, and possibly reverse, desertification?
  2. How are desertification and the problem of refugees connected?

Special instructions

You will watch the two videos (Video #1, Video #2) linked to this web page, and read one or both of the following articles:

You will then extend your learning by answering the following in your Google doc.

Your document needs to include answer to the following:

  1. What types of trees seem to be particularly effective for building the Great Green Wall?
  2. In the communities in the Sahel, who is primarily in charge of building the Great Green Wall.
  3. Create a well written paragraph to describe land degradation and how it contributes to desertification.
  4. Describe how the growing of even small gardens can change the lives of people in the Sahel.
  5. What is happening in schools where the Great Green Wall is being planted?
  6. The videos talk about connections between slowing erosion, cooling the areas near the trees, increasing humidity, laying down compost, and the Great Green Wall. Take a paragraph or two and explain that connection.


Part Two - Living in the Sahara


Man leading camels in the Sahara


Description - The Sahara

This part of the packet will focus on the history of the Sahara, the lives of the people in the Sahara and the unique circumstances in which they live. We will use a video about the Sahara, a World Book Online article, and article of your choosing.


Students will identify and explain the unique historical, physical and cultural characteristics of the Sahara.

Students will explain how life in the Sahara compares to their own.

Essential questions

What special adaptations are required for people who live in the Sahara?

How do nations that include parts of the Sahara utilize it?

Special instructions

OK, without our class discussion, during the school closure, the assignment about the Sahara may need some more support than I initially attached to it.

Without some class discussion time it's hard to draw a clear picture about an area as diverse as athe Sahara. So, during the closure, I'm going to try to draw some broad interpretations. We will use the a video, a World Book entry, and an NBC News article.

The first item is the video. The video talks mostly about the history of the nations fighting for control of the Sahara. There is a little information about the current conditions in the Sahara at the end - especially about water use. So, the only questions in the list below that really relate closely to the video are the first two. The main point of the video is to gain some understanding about the historical fights for the Sahara in order to help understand the present issues facing nations in and near the Sahara. This will be especially important when we talk about the current refugee situation.

The second, the World Book Online articleis just a brief description of overall facts about the Sahara.

The third, the NBC News article is about modern Mali and Tuareg people who inhabit that part of the Sahara. This article provides some excellent information about the unique lives the Tuareg live in the Sahara.



You will include two entries in this part of your Google document.

First, copy and paste the questions below into your Google doc. Complete them during or after viewing the video. Here is a link to the video.

Here is a link to the World Book Online article about the Sahara.

Here is a link to the NBC News article about Mali.

One - Sahara Video Study Guide and News Article Questions 
Be sure to create a well written answer of a short paragraph or so in response to the following questions.

  1. How would you describe the past of kingdoms in the Sahara?

  2. How did sandstorms affect the Sahara anciently?

  3. How do uses of the Sahara vary today?

  4. What draws some of the Tuareg people to live in the Sahara?

  5. What special challenges does living in the Sahara bring? The Tuareg are probably the best example.

  6. How do people adapt to life in the Sahara?

  7. How does the environment in the Sahara affect the societies that develop there?

  8. How would living in the Sahara change the ways you live?


Two - Sahara News Article

Step One > Create a section at the bottom of your Google doc entitled 'Sahara'

Step Two > Find a news article about an issue in the Sahara today. I have some suggested places linked in the Online and Media Files section in the right column of this page.

Step  Three > Copy the URL for your article, and paste it under the header entitled 'Sahara' you just created.

Step Four > Write a summary, much like we do in class about the article your chose. How does it relate, or not relate to ideas brought up in the video? Who is involved? What is the main issue? Where is it being reported? Think about your article in terms of the future. What will it mean in years ahead and so forth.

Last, why did you select this article?




Completion for this packet - 160 points
Each item, completion 40 points.





Printed files


Online and Media Files

Here is the link to CIA World Factbook

Video #1, Video #2

The National Georgraphic article The Great Green Wall

The site at

Here is the link to the video about the Sahara.

Here is a link to the video about a ship that smuggles refugees. If you time during the break, I encourage you to watch it. We will talk about refugees in the next few weeks.

News articles and collections of news about the Sahara

One, Two, Three

The short World Book Online article about the Sahara.

The NBC News article about Mali.