FAO partners with Indian institutions to improve land and water management in drought-prone areas
Netherlands commits 13.9 million euros towards assistance model that puts project management in local hands
13 August 2004, Rome -- As part of an innovative model of development assistance that puts project management in the hands of national institutions, FAO signed agreements this week with three Indian organizations to strengthen land and water management for poor farmers in drought-prone areas of the country.
The projects, funded with 13.9 million euros from the Netherlands, will be implemented by two non-governmental organizations and a state agricultural university in Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka and Tamil Nadu, states that have been hard hit by drought and declining agricultural productivity due to unsustainable land and water use. FAO will provide technical and management support.
A first for FAO
"This is the first time we have had projects based on this type of model," said Mafa Chipeta, Director of FAO's Policy Assistance Division.
In recent years, the conditions under which FAO has been implementing its technical assistance projects in a number of countries have been gradually evolving. As countries expand their own technical and managerial capabilities, many have begun looking to the so-called "national execution" model for development projects, whereby responsibility for project management rests with governments or other national institutions.
In response to this trend, FAO began reconsidering some of its procedures, and in December, FAO's governing conference approved three "business models" for nationally executed projects, known as partnership for development agreements.
"This was an arrangement we had never seen before, and so a number of legal, operational and administrative considerations had to be addressed," said Chipeta.
Under such agreements, FAO no longer has direct responsibility for the technical choices made in project implementation, but rather assists national implementing institutions in making appropriate choices.
"We want to facilitate the development process at country level, and we will provide the services necessary to achieve this," said Chipeta.
Improving livelihoods through better water management
"The new Indian government has placed emphasis on improving the lives of farmers and their communities, particularly in dryland areas," said Daniel Gustafson, FAO Representative in India. "These three projects fit in precisely with the government's priorities."
In the Deccan Plateau region of southern India, where inappropriate land-use practices and depleted vegetation have made farming increasingly unviable under low and uncertain rainfall conditions, FAO will team up with the AME Foundation, a local NGO, to improve water management and promote alternative farming practices to bolster food security and strengthen livelihoods.
The other two projects, managed by the Bharathi Integrated Rural Development Society and the Acharya N G Ranga Agricultural University, both in Andhra Pradesh, will also address water management issues and promote more sustainable agricultural practices.
All the projects advocate a participatory approach that involves local farmers associations, NGOs and government departments in the decision-making process.
"These projects will provide a number of important lessons and insights on how to improve food security through better land and water management, using participatory, community-driven approaches," said Gustafson. "The programme represents a two-way flow of expertise between the partners and FAO."
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