Queen Sofia of Spain visits post-tsunami fisheries rehabilitation project
Spain is financing several FAO initiatives in Aceh
6 February 2007, Banda Aceh, Indonesia - Queen Sofia of Spain visited FAO fisheries rehabilitation projects in a coastal area of the Indonesian province of Nanggroe Aceh Darussalam that was devastated by the December 2004 tsunami, leaving tens of thousands homeless with huge losses to livelihoods.
Queen Sofia inspected facilities where artisanal fishing boats are being built and ponds for aquaculture rehabilitated. She also inaugurated a model hatchery built in the Ladong Fishing School, which will be used as a training centre for sustainable fisheries techniques.
Queen Sofia talked with project beneficiaries, mostly women, living in the coastal areas of Aceh Province. She visited farmers who have received materials, tools, larvae, and technical assistance to rebuild ponds. She observed a boat building yard used for training local boat builders to produce high-quality boats to replace those destroyed or damaged by the tsunami.
Throughout the visit the Queen was accompanied by He Changchui, FAO’s Assistant Director-General for Asia and the Pacific, FAO technical experts, and staff from the Spanish International Co-operation agency (AECI).
“With the generous help of Spain, fishers, fish farmers and processors are restoring their natural resources and rebuilding their livelihoods for a more prosperous and sustainable future,” said He Changchui. He thanked Queen Sofia for her visit and “for championing FAO’s mission of achieving global food security.”
AECI is currently providing funding to the tune of €1.5 million. The project began in December 2005 and – in addition to providing support to revive aquaculture and fishing – assists the Indonesian Government and its agencies with fisheries coordination, planning and strategies.
The visit by Queen Sofia to the Aceh region is part of her tour of Indonesia and Cambodia.
Spanish cooperation with FAO
A comprehensive post-tsunami recovery and development programme is under way to support the fisheries-dependent people of Aceh, who total nearly 20 percent of the population.
FAO was one of the first international agencies to operate in Aceh in the aftermath of the tsunami. Up to the present, more than 20 FAO agriculture, fisheries and forestry projects have supported the livelihoods of and provided food security to some 350 000 people in the province of Aceh and the nearby island of Nias.
AECI has recently approved an additional €1 million project for the same region, which will begin operations in the coming months.
“This second project will focus on rehabilitating the agriculture sector and on processing fish products,” Mr He explained.
AECI is also financing a project in Sri Lanka for the recovery of the fisheries sector affected by the tsunami.
With voluntary contributions of over €25 million in 2006, mainly for projects in Latin America and Africa, Spain has now become FAO’s largest bilateral donor.
AECI is also cooperating with the FAO Emergency Relief and Rehabilitation Programme in other countries, including Angola, Ethiopia, Malawi, Uganda and the Palestinian territories, and in combating desert locusts in the Sahel.
The Ceres Medal
In October 2006 the Queen was awarded the FAO Ceres Medal in Madrid by FAO Director-General Jacques Diouf, who emphasized that the honour was being conferred “for her commitment to the most exploited people on the planet" and for her support for microcredit schemes to help lift rural women out of poverty.
On previous occasions, Queen Sofia has been personally involved in emergency and rehabilitation operations following natural disasters, visiting earthquake victims in El Salvador and those affected by hurricane Mitch. She has also travelled to Central America to support the FAO Special Programme for Food Security in the region.
Chief, FAO Information Office for Spain and Andorra
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