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2004 edition

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2004 edition

FOREWORD

Through an annual Trust Fund voluntary financial contribution, the Government of Italy has, since 1982, been one of the major donors to FAOs Government Cooperative Programme. From 1988 an annual Review of the the FAO/Government of Italy Cooperative Programme has been carried out, and a related Report produced, in order to provide a comprehensive and concise presentation of the activities carried out within the FAO/Government of Italy Cooperative Programme, and to briefly assess its accomplishments. The Review concerns the multilateral projects financed through the annual voluntary contribution received from the Government of Italy, as well as the projects financed under the multi-bilateral scheme. In order to prepare the Review it is necessary to collect, examine and summarize all the relevant information which is shared by different units and sections both at FAO and the Italian Ministry for Foreign Affairs. This edition of the Review is the result of a joint effort of the Italian Directorate General for Development Cooperation (DGCS) through the Ufficio II - Multilateral Desk and the Field Programme Development Service (TCAP).

The Review is an information tool and is not supposed to provide detailed technical information on projects. This information is already available in the FAO technical and operating units and in project files. The intended users are officers of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Italy and of FAO who need a quick and concise reference book on the ongoing projects constituting the FAO/Government of Italy Cooperative Programme. Other potential users are research institutions, universities, media.

As in previous editions, the book is divided into two parts: the first consists of an introduction which contains updated background information on the origin and scope of the FAO/Government of Italy Cooperative Programme, a description of the Programme's development and management and a short summary of the various Italian-funded initiatives and the different kinds of development projects. This part includes charts showing projects divided by thematic areas and geographical distribution.

The second part is devoted to a compendium of project profiles which is the focus of the Review. Each profile consists of a brief description that includes information on the project's location, a financial summary, outstanding issues, together with a record of the project's objectives, activities and the conclusions and recommendations made during recent meetings. Only projects which were active during 2003 and the first half of 2004 are included. A paragraph describing project proposals which are currently in the pipeline is also included.

Profiles of projects which are closed, dating mostly from the early 1980s to 2002, have not been included in this Review but are available in previous editions.

The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations would like to express its appreciation to the staff in both the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Italy (Ufficio II/DGCS) and FAO (Field Programme Development Service - TCAP) who have made this Review possible.

THE FAO/GOVERNMENT OF ITALY COOPERATIVE PROGRAMME

The field operations of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) are financed by donor countries' Trust Funds, national resources of developing countries under Unilateral Trust Funds agreements and by resources from the Regular Programme as well as by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP). Since the establishment in 1979 of the Department General for Development Cooperation (presently Directorate General for Development Cooperation) within the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Italy, the projects financed by Italy under the Trust Fund arrangement have become a major component of FAO field programme, illustrating the commitment of the Government of Italy to support developmental issues within a multilateral framework.

Origin and Magnitude

During the 1980s, cooperation between the Government of Italy and FAO in implementing projects and programmes in developing countries gained momentum, not only in terms of the magnitude of the funds committed, but also on account of the increased scope and quality of the Programme. During the period 1980-2002, Italy’s annual voluntary contribution to FAO field operations and special programmes grew to more than US$500 million. At the outset, the Italian assistance to FAO was intended to provide for technical assistance missions and for the services of individual experts and the provision of equipment. This evolved gradually into a more structured programme whereby the development plans and priorities of FAO and the Government of Italy have come together to form an integrated and coherent whole. Currently, Italy is among the major donors to the FAO/Government Cooperative Programme. In 1999, 28 projects were implemented, in 2000 and 2001, 25 multilateral projects and three multi-bilateral projects were ongoing and in 2002, 24 multilateral projects and three multi-bilateral projects were implemented. In 2003, 30 multilateral projects and five multi-bilateral projects were implemented. In June 2004, 33 multilateral and five multi-bilateral projects are currently being implemented.

The projects financed through the multi-bilateral funds, are formed by initiatives identified by the Directorate General for Development Cooperation which, according to different necessities and through the Technical Cooperation Unit (UTC) or area desks, are assigned to FAO for their implementation. These activities are in addition to the projects financed through the annual voluntary Trust Fund contribution which the Government of Italy, through the ‘Ufficio II’ Multilateral Desk, allocates to different international organizations.

Institutional Arrangements

For field projects, the quality and the promptness of the assistance provided are of prime importance. In response to this particular requirement the FAO/Italy Cooperative Programme has adopted and established appropriate mechanisms with the relevant programming and technical units of both FAO and the Italian Government. While also drawing on the talents and services of Italian experts and institutions from the early stages of a project’s design phase through to the final evaluation of the completed project activities, the Programme has made a point of working with the Trust Fund in a manner fully compatible with FAO’s role as a multilateral development organization. The instruments that were developed to improve both the efficiency and delivery of field activities can be described as follows:

The General Trust Fund Agreement, signed in April 1982, together with the Supplementary Agreement concluded in January 1985, provides the overall framework for the identification, selection and implementation of projects to be executed by FAO with the financial support of the Italian Government.

The FAO/Italy Consultative Committee on Development Cooperation, established in May 1984, is entrusted with the broad mandate of overseeing the activities of the FAO/Italy Cooperative Programme and providing policy guidance on priority areas of intervention, in keeping with the development policies of the Italian Government and FAO’s priority of using available resources with maximum efficiency.

A Technical FAO/Italy Panel, also established in May 1984, until recently provided a forum for a regular exchange of views concerning formulation, implementation and evaluation of the Programme's activities. This last mechanism is presently under revision according to the development and the present needs of the programme.

Programme Management

The characteristic of the FAO/Government of Italy Cooperative Programme is that Italy's contribution is not only financial but it also includes partnership based on technical support and provision of human resources. A coordinated approach and a constant dialogue on programming priorities with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Italy is maintained. In order to enhance the relevance, efficiency and effectiveness of projects funded by Italy, attention is given to four major areas of the project management: identification, formulation, monitoring and evaluation.

Concerning the overall approach, it is important to underline the remarkable collaboration with a number of Italian Institutions, such as the ‘Istituto Agronomico per l’Oltremare’ in Florence, the ‘Istituto Agronomico per il Mediterraneo’ in Bari, the University of Turin and the University of Viterbo, to mention just a few. The participation of Italian Institutions in the FAO/Government of Italy Cooperative Programme is considered a significant and prestigious additional value.

Summary of Development Projects

The Italian Government has always been one of the major donors to the FAO/Government Cooperative Programme. Since the establishment in 1979 of the Department for Development Cooperation at the Italian Ministry for Foreign Affairs, more than 170 projects and Special Programmes have been financed by Italy under Trust Fund arrangements totalling over US$ 500 million. The annual voluntary contribution provided by the Government of Italy has ranged from Lit. 20 billion in 1996, Lit 16 billion in 1997, Lit. 15 billion in 1998, Lit. 46 billion in 1999, Lit. 38 billion in 2000 and Lit. 23.5 billion in 2001. The contribution for the year 2001, corresponded to US$11 million and for the year 2002 to US$11.2 million. For 2003 the annual voluntary Trust Fund contribution was US$13 million for multilateral projects and US$4.5 million for multi-bilateral projects.

It should be noted that at the end of 2001 the Italian Government made a special contribution of US$44.8 million available in favour of the Global Trust Fund for Food Security and Food Safety. The funds have been earmarked according to three thematic priorities, namely: Food Security, comprising technical, institutional and economic constraints that prevent farmers from reaching food security (including regional food security programmes); Transboundary Animal and Plant Disease that inhibit production and reduce trade; and Investments focusing on the promotion of increased investment from national and international private sector in agriculture and the rural sector. It is also important to mention that an ad hoc contribution (of about US$2.5 million) was made available in 2001 for specific activities in the framework of a decentralized cooperation programme.

The programme is centred on the realization of food security projects to be identified and selected jointly with Italian entities at both central and sub-national levels. The main objective is to mobilize the social, human and financial resources of Italian decentralized authorities in the fight against hunger. Overall implementation is assured by a small supporting group within FAO, which is to facilitate communication with the Italian local authorities and support joint identification, formulation, monitoring and evaluation of projects mainly related to food security.

Until 1992, the FAO/Government of Italy Cooperative Programme was being carried out within a very broad range of geographical areas and technical fields. As it became clear that such a dispersion of effort was not assisting in maximizing results, a process of concentration over technical sectors and countries was promoted in order to achieve complementarities, economic efficiency, and greater impact. At the moment nearly 50 percent of the projects implemented are concentrated in Africa, in regions of the Mediterranean and the Near East. Among the projects implemented in Africa two are interregional (INT) projects.

Distribution by Thematic Areas

In terms of technical sectors, the FAO/Government of Italy Cooperative Programme is now based in three main areas: Environment and Sustainable Development with 14 projects and a share of 58 percent of total contribution; Food Security, nine projects with a budget share of 15 percent of total contribution; and Institutional Support and Policy Assistance, 15 projects with a budget share of 27 percent of total contribution.

Environment and Sustainable Development

The Environment and Sustainable Development sector accounts for 58 percent of the financial contribution. Action in this sector has been based on evidence showing that in several Mediterranean and African countries a circular process of high population pressure on land, environmental degradation and poverty is at work, which results in high migratory pressure. In a number of these countries several projects aim to improve the management of natural resources, including forestry, rangelands, wildlife and water. The Italian funded projects in this sector are linking the issue of environmental degradation to sustainable development within the wider objective of enhanced food security.

Project GCP/BOL/034/ITA ‘Information, Communication and Training for Natural Resource Management and Sustainable Agriculture – Bolivia’, is promoting sustainable natural management and rural development in an area comprising ten municipalities. It also aims at enhancing the capability of local institutions, communication facilities, local experts and farmers in implementing efficient rural communication activities by integrating different media such as video, radio and the Internet.

Project GCP/BOL/037/ITA ‘Strengthening of the Germoplasm Banks within the National System of Genetic Resources for Agriculture and Feeding’ intends to strengthen the infrastructure and the activities of three active banks of germplasm (Cereal Bank, Tubercle Bank, and Bank of Andean Grain) and to support the creation of a database to allow the conservation of duplicates of all existing collections.

Another project which is worth mentioning is project GCP/INT/752/ITA ‘Capacity Building for Nile Basin Water Resources Management’, which addresses the issues of management and utilization of the Nile waters, promoting the suitable cooperation and management between ten riparian countries (Burundi, Democratic Republic of Congo, Egypt, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Kenya, Rwanda, Sudan, Tanzania and Uganda). The Nile Basin covers about 3.1 million km2, or 10 percent of the whole African continent, spreading over ten countries which rely heavily on water supply. At present water demand is strongly increasing in the basin and water scarcity is looming while the riparian countries are experiencing the increasing need for social and economic development. Through capacity building programmes directed at the management of Nile Basin water resources and basin-wide cooperation initiatives, the project has significantly fostered collaboration and dialogue between the riparian countries promoting the foundation for improved growth, food security and stability in the region. The project has developed a basin water resources management Decision Support Tool (Nile-DST) software to model the entire Nile water system and assess the trade-offs and consequences of various cross sectoral development scenario. The project also provides training in Geographical Information System operation and analysis, and in the legal and institutional aspects of water resources management.

Of particular importance is project GCP/MOR/016/ITA ‘Natural Resources Management in the Taza region’. The project was formulated to improve the use and production of natural resources in the Taza region by implementing the adoption of a participatory management approach to natural resources, in particular in two ecological areas. One is a semiarid rangeland, and the second one a national park with a Mediterranean climate. In the last two years activities focused on natural resources management and in training for the diffusion of new irrigation techniques. The project is at present completing operations.

Complementarities and mutual support among projects have been always pursued in the FAO/Government of Italy Cooperative Programme. In this context, it is worth mentioning that the Italian funded Africover East Africa module, project GCP/RAF/287/ITA ‘Land Cover Mapping of East Africa based on satellite remote sensing’, a regional project basically covering the same Nile riparian countries as the above mentioned GCP/INT/752/ITA, has been operational since May 1995. The project, which has recently concluded in May 2004, produced satellite interpreted land cover database of the whole of East Africa and trained National Focal Point Institutions dealing with natural resource management in the use of this technology. Under the project nearly 10 million km2 in East Africa were mapped. In the light of the results achieved by project GCP/RAF/287/ITA a new project, GCP/INT/934/ITA ‘Topic Centre for the Global Land Cover Network (GLCN) – A Blueprint for Land Cover and Land Cover Dynamics’ has been recently declared operational with Italian funding. The Global Land Cover Network (GLCN), with a dedicated centralized Land Cover Topic Centre, based in FAO headquarters and in the Istituto Agronomico per l’Oltremare (IAO) in Florence, is being developed based on the land cover mapping technologies which have already been developed and operationally tested during the Africover East Africa module.

The overall objective of the project is to facilitate harmonization of land cover products from diverse national, regional and global projects, to increase the availability of reliable and standardized information on land cover and its changes at the global level, and to bridge the data gap by making data easily accessible and affordable to developing countries. Such information is urgently needed by policy-makers and planners responsible for food security activities, mitigation of natural and human-induced disasters, and environmental protection.

The focus of GCP/LAO/013/ITA ‘Improvement and Development of Fruit and Vegetable Crops in Lao PDR’, which has been recently declared operational, is to strengthen sustainable basic fruit and vegetable farming systems in the People’s Democratic Republic of Lao (Lao PDR) thus encouraging diversification of crops and promoting generation of income for the people living in the project area. Initially the project will focus its activites on the Mekong Corridor i.e. Champassak Province and Luang Prabang Province. The strategy consists of improving the livelihoods of smallholder farmers through specific technological and socio-economic interventions.

A success project worth mentioning is GCP/SYR/009/ITA ‘Rangeland Rehabilitation and Establishment of a Wildlife Reserve in the Syrian Steppe’, presently completing operations after about ten years of activities, considering that the preparatory project GCP/SYR/001/ITA started in 1994. It aims to promote biodiversity conservation in the Syrian Arab Republic, in particular in the Al Badia region, through the development of the first nature reserve of the country (Al-Talila Wildlife Reserve), the rehabilitation of extensive rangeland, the provision of extension services to local communities, and also by strengthening conservation education and raising awareness among decision-makers and civil society for a better land management. The project recognizes the need for a holistic approach to resource management involving all stakeholders, whose support is considered vital for long-term sustainability.

Cooperation between Italy and FAO in Albania developed more as an integrated package rather than a series of projects. Among the various projects implemented in the country, two are currently ongoing. Project GCP/ALB/004/ITA ‘Technical Assistance to the World Bank-Italy Forestry Project’, was approved by the multilateral cooperation of Italy to support a forestry infrastructures investment programme, and is funded also bilaterally by Italy and the World Bank. With regard to the other project GCP/ALB/005/ITA ‘Agricultural Production Support in Albania’, it should be noted that it is funded by the Government of Italy under the multi-bilateral programme and it is the extension of a successful project implemented in 1995, namely GCP/ALB/003/ITA. The present project aims to assist farmers and farmers groups in the development of four important food chains in Albanian agricultural system: milk and diary products, fresh/processed fruits and vegetable, grapes and wine, olive fruits and oil.

Another country where cooperation between Italy and FAO developed more as an integrated package is Tunisia. Two projects in Tunisia are presently on-going. Project GCP/TUN/028/ITA ‘Water and Soil Conservation Programme in the Governatorates of Kairouan, Siliana et Zaghouan’, which started in September 2000, intends to support the conservation of water and soil resources within the broader scope to increase food security through a long-term programme of agricultural development. In the fishery sector, another project GCP/TUN/030/ITA started in April 2003. It comprises of a series of actions aiming at supporting the fish marketing activities in the major commercial Tunisian harbours, by providing appropriate conservation technology. Both projects are under the multi-bilateral programme.

Also within the context of the multi-bilateral programme, it is worthwhile to mention project GCP/BIH/002/ITA ‘Inventory of Post-War Situation of Land Resources in Bosnia and Herzegovina’, which is due to complete operations by the end of 2004. In four years of activities the project substantially contributed to the development and dissemination of an operational land evaluation system to support land use decision-making at various levels. Furthermore, the project provided tested methodologies for action-oriented land resources management at local level to guide rural investment and development, and strengthened the capacity for land resources management.

It is also relevant to mention that, following previous experiences in Viet Nam, a new project is operational. GCP/VIE/027/ITA ‘Capacity Building, Extension, Demonstration and Support for the Development of Market-Oriented Agroforestry in Quang Nam Province – Viet Nam’ will assist the government to maximize the benefits of forest land allocation by supporting environmentally sound and commercially profitable agroforestry systems also on lands that are currently marginal.

Finally it is important to mention two projects which are being declared operational. The first one concerns Nepal, for the promotion of the olive oil production as a way to enhance the growth of the agricultural sector. The second one, to be developed in Ghana, will involve the establishment of a tomato processing promotion centre which will serve as a research resource and will provide needed information and practical know-how to farmers and potential processors.

Food Security

Food Security (15 percent of the total budget) has traditionally been an important sector which included projects ranging from early warning to post harvest losses, as well as support to agricultural production aimed at household food security. In preparation of, and further to, the two World Food Summits of November 1996 and June 2002, food security has definitely become a major area for cooperation. With particular reference to the Special Programme on Food Security (SPFS), on 11 November 1996 a Memorandum of Understanding between FAO and the Government of Italy on the Special Programme on Food Production in Support of Food Security in Low-income, Food-deficit Countries (LIFDC) was signed. According to this Memorandum, Italy has made available an amount of US$12 million to support the Pilot Phase of the SPFS Programme in a number of countries jointly identified. As follow-up to the World Food Summit held in 1996, it was initially decided to support five pilot phases in Angola, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Mozambique and Senegal. The latest two have now completed the activities. Five other projects within this Programme have become operational: in the Democratic Peoples' Republic of Korea (Korea PDR) in 2001, in The Gambia, Guinea, and Guinea Bissau in 2002, and in Guatemala in 2003. The status of these programmes is synthesized as follows:

GCPS/ANG/005/ITA ‘Rehabilitation of Food Security in the Bengo Province - A Joint FAO-IFAD-WFP Initiative’ aims to bring sustainable improvement in the livelihood and food security of rural people in the Bengo province and demonstrate replicable approaches to rural development. The longer term goal of the project is to strengthen Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development institutional capacities, in order to implement similar programmes of rural development on a larger scale.

Through the financial support of the Italian Government and technical assistance from FAO, project GCSP/DKR/003/ITA ‘Special Programme for Food Security in Korea’, was signed in August 2001 (for a period of 2.5 years) and it became operational in December 2001. It aims at strengthening food security, revitalizing rural economy and alleviating rural poverty in Korea PDR.

In 1997 the Italian Government decided to fund a small-scale irrigation component in Eritrea, under project GCSP/ERI/003/ITA ‘Special Programme on Food Production for Food Security in Low-Income, Food-Deficit Countries’. The project aims at increasing the production of the main staple crops and associated agricultural products, so as to contribute to the attainment of food security at the household and national level.

Since July 1998 the Government of Italy also provides support to the Government of Ethiopia, under project GCSP/ETH/057/ITA ‘Special Programme for Food Production in Ethiopia, Irrigation Component’, mostly for water control activities in different drought prone areas of Tigray and Amhara regions. In 2000 additional activities were initiated in the sectors of livestock and inland fishery.

During the FAO/Italy Consultive Meeting held in July 2000, the Government of Italy expressed its intention to fund a SPFS in The Gambia, Guinea and Guinea Bissau.

Projects: GCSP/GAM/021/ITA ‘Special Programme for Food Security in The Gambia’, GCSP/GUI/015/ITA ‘Special Programme for Food Security in Guinea’, GCSP/GBS/026/ITA ‘Special Programme for Food Security in the Guinea-Bissau’ were formulated to support the components of the SPFS, namely: water management and control; diversification and intensification of horticultural products; and constraint analyisis.

The Italian Trust Fund project in Guatemala, GCSP/GUA/011/ITA ‘Institutional Support to National Policies and Programmes for Food Security and Poverty Alleviation’ was formulated to provide assistance to the Government of Guatemala in reducing poverty and increasing national and households’ food security by the implementation of a National Alliance against Hunger, a Regional Food Security Strategy, and a National Programme for Food Security.

We may recall also the assistance provided by the Government of Italy and FAO to the Government of Eritrea through project GCPS/ERI/002/ITA ‘Strengthening and Expansion of the National Food Information System in Eritrea’. The project aims at supporting the Government of Eritrea in the establishment and implementation of effective national and subnational food information systems, recognized as essential means to combat food insecurity and monitor vulnerable population groups. The project is in direct support to SPFS but it has, at the same time, a strong component of institutional support.

Another project in direct support to SPFS but with a strong institutional support component is the interregional project GCP/INT/872/ITA ‘Gender Analysis in Farmers’ Water management’. The project concerns the organization of regional training workshops for SPFS teams and partner institutions in a number of selected countries in Africa and Asia.

Institutional Support and Policy Assistance

The third major area for cooperation is Institutional Support and Policy Assistance. Projects in this area respond to the needs of specific governments to enhance their capacities, both at central and decentralized level, in designing appropriate policies that will support economic and agricultural development. Presently, 15 projects are under implementation.

It is worth mentioning here a number of significant initiatives.

GCP/SYR/006/ITA ‘Agricultural Planning and Policy Analysis’, entering its third phase, aims at further improving the technical and institutional capacity of the Ministry of Agriculture and Agrarian Reform of the Republic of Syria through the establishment and support to the National Agriculture Policy Centre (NAPC). The Centre will perform agricultural formulation and policy analysis functions within the Ministry, as well as training activities. Concerning this last point, adequate attention is being paid to involve Italian Academic Institutions, with specific reference to the delivery of post-graduate studies.

In Cuba since May 2000 project GCP/CUB/009/ITA, has been providing assistance to the Veterinary Faculty of the University of Havana for the establishment of sustainable systems for animal products. The project is presently completing activities.

In Eritrea project GCP/ERI/006/ITA ‘Strengthening the Agricultural Research and Extension Division in Eritrea’ is operational since 2001. The overall goal of the project is to improve the quality of the research services. The research aims at improving the productivity and sustainability of horticultural crops and animal production, developing integrated land and water management systems, and looking at moisture conservation and utilization techniques. The dissemination of the findings through on-farm participatory technology development, is expected to raise the income and nutritional standards among small farmers and rural workers.

Project GCP/INT/811/ITA ‘Support to Livestock Exports from the Horn of Africa’, operating in Djibouti, Ethiopia and Somalia aims at establishing a credible system of livestock health control and at harmonizing the livestock export examination and certification process among the countries of the Horn of Africa.

GCP/INT/825/ITA ‘Promoting, Coordinating and Implementing Observance of the International Year of the Mountains’ seeks to enhance the sustainable development of mountain regions and the well-being of mountain and lowland communities through more effective collaboration and cooperation among various stakeholders and through the establishment within countries of long-term institutional arrangements to deal effectively with mountain issues.

GCP/INT/847/ITA ‘Capacity Building in Education for Agriculture, Rural Development and Food Security’. This project which started in April 2003, aims at reducing food insecurity by focusing on supporting the most vulnerable groups, strengthening institutional capacity building, education and training.

Within the multi-bilateral context, successful stories include project GCP/INT/848/ITA ‘Programme for Institutional Strengthening of the West Africa Network of Community-Based Organizations (ROPPA) in the Framework of the Fight Against Desertification and Poverty in the Countries of Burkina Faso, Mali, Niger, and Senegal’. This is a regional project operational in the Sahel area. It aims at combating desertification and poverty in the region providing support to the activities of both international and national Non-governmental Organizations (NGO). The project was designed within the context of a major bilateral programme funded by the Government of Italy in the four participating countries. The assistance of FAO was requested for the coordination of the NGOs operating in the four countries. The project is presently completing activities.

Project GCP/INT/927ITA ‘Assistance to the NEPAD Member Countries in the Review/Update of National Strategies for Food Security and Agricultural Development, and the Preparation of Medium–term Investment Programmes and Bankable Projects in Support to the CAADP Implementation’ is part of the ongoing effort of the organization and of the Government of Italy to assist national policy makers in New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD) member countries in the formulation of sound agricultural policies.

GCP/INT/930/ITA ‘Strengthening Civil Society Involvement in Decision-making on Agricultural and Food Security Policies and Programmes: NGO/CSO Consultations in Conjunction with the 2004 FAO Regional Conferences’ intends to promote wider participation of NGOs and Civil Society Organizations at four FAO Regional Conferences in 2004. By promoting the involvement of groups working at grass-roots level in developing countries the effectiveness and aptness of FAO policy discussions and decision-making during Regional Conferences will be significantly enhanced.

Project GCP/SYR/010/ITA ‘Participatory and Integrated Forest Fires Management Plan’ intends to support the forest development strategy of the Syrian Government, addressing issues related to participatory forest fire management. Moreover, the project attempts to restore the biodiversity in the degraded forest ecosystems in the coastal region and to protect and improve the afforested areas. It focuses on three main areas: institutional, administrative and technical development, capacity building, and the involvement of local communities in forest fires control.

In Viet Nam, project GCP/VIE/024/ITA ‘National Food Security Information System’, which started operations in March 2001 as a follow-up of project GCPS/RAS/140/ITA, is concluding its activities. The project strengthened the national capacity to design and implement an expanded market information monitoring system and the food crop monitoring and production forecasting system. The project also developed a model for a sustainable system of periodic assessment of household demand and access to food and strengthened the capacity to analyze statistical data and information related to food security. In all these areas, considerable results have been achieved.

Another important project, which is in the process of being declared operational, is a regional initiative in support of the International Year of the Rice (IYR). The project seeks to assist LIFDCs in their participation to the IYR - 2004 activities and to increase global awareness as to the importance of rice when addressing issues related to food security, environmental management and cultural preservation.

Future Development of the FAO/Government of Italy Cooperative Programme

It is proposed to further consolidate results in the three sectors mentioned above and to develop projects which would be complementary to those already operational in priority countries within the Italian cooperation policy. As in the past, this approach aims at producing the greatest impact and a coherent set of actions at country level. This approach may also lead to develop strategy by country, with the Government of Italy playing a leading role in the overall country programme.

Environment and Sustainable Development

In this section, current policy orientation is to consolidate ongoing activities with particular reference to water resources and agricultural production. The approach should thus be based on the consolidation of ongoing programmes or the approval of new initiatives which would be complementary to existing ones and would allow a certain ‘critical mass’.

One initiative, under formulation in Mozambique within the multi-bilateral scheme, will improve the living conditions of artisan fisher folk of the two provinces of Gaza and Inhambane, by increasing the production and the disposal of the catches through a more stable marketing system, and will also help to tackle the core problem of weak public administration in the field.

Under consideration is also a project in The Philippines. This will strengthen the capacities of livestock government agencies both at the national and local level, and sustain a safer, more equitable and cleaner livestock production in the country.

Another project, to be implemented in Syria, will establish an institutional framework that would coordinate and integrate the development of organic farming.

After extensive consultation with participating countries at the 8th meeting of the Project Steering Committee (PSC) of Project GCP/INT/752/ITA ‘Capacity Building for Nile Basin Water Resources Management’, held in March 2004, it was decided to field a project formulation mission to prepare a possible follow-up to the present phase. The mission was fielded in May 2004 and comprised the PSC Chairman and three representatives from the participating countries, and one representative each from the Donor and FAO. As part of the consultative and participatory process, national stakeholder consultation workshops were organized in all Nile riparian countries to facilitate the task of the formulation mission. The new proposal reflects the needs expressed by the participating countries for further improving their technical capacities in the use of new technological tools established by the project and in the utilization of these tools for scenario assessment and decision making.

Food Security

Food security will continue to represent one of the main areas for cooperation within the FAO/Italy Programme. Concerning the Special Programme on Food Security (SPFS), it is important to note that the twenty-ninth Session of the FAO Conference has highlighted the significant results and achievements of the programme. The projects benefiting from the Italian support are successfully under implementation.

The formulation of a new SPFS project to be implemented in Cambodia, under the multi-bilateral scheme, will be completed very soon. The initiative will be developed to increase food security and livelihood of the population living in the Province of Battambang through improved water resource management, increased agricultural production, adequate institutional arrangements and community empowerment. The project has been already approved by the Government of Italy.

Institutional support and Policy Assistance

Within this technical sector, one project is being considered. The project, to be developed at a regional level, will build upon and expand the activities funded by the Government of Italy through the GCP/INT/847/ITA ‘Capacity Building in Education for Agriculture, Rural Development and Food Security’ in two more regions – the African and the Balkan regions. The project will reinforce the Education for Rural People partnership Coordination Unit capacity in managing and expanding the global initiative.

Further Remarks

From the beginning of year 2000, Italian authorities showed a major interest in the biodiversity and bio-technology sectors. Preliminary discussions occurred and are expected to develop into concrete future collaboration.

Additional support, on an annual basis, will be provided to the Secretariat of Global Forum on Agricultural Research (GFAR) for 2004. The funds will be used to finance two specific components of the 2004-2006 GFAR Business Plan. Firstly, part of the funds will be devoted to activities regarding the development of Rural Small and Medium-sized Enterprises, with the objective of linking farmers to markets. The second component concerns the strengthening of functional linkages among Regional fora in this way fostering Inter Regional Collaborations.

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