FAO Regional Office for Europe and Central Asia

US$ 11 million GEF grant to address land degradation, climate change

An ambitious five-year project on integrated natural resources management in drought-prone and salt-affected areas is on its way to take-off, thanks to US$ 11 million in financing from the Global Environment Facility (GEF).

The FAO project will assist Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkey, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan in tackling challenges related to desertification, land degradation and drought, climate change, and biodiversity.

“Drought is a common and recurrent feature of the climate in Central Asia,” said FAO land and water officer Ines Beernaerts. “The frequency and severity of droughts have been increasing in the region over the past 30 years and this trend is likely to continue.”

In salt-affected landscapes, where conventional crops fail to achieve satisfactory yield rates, production systems and markets need to be adjusted, and effective government policies can make a difference in ensuring food security and sustainable livelihoods.

The GEF-funded project – also known as the second phase of the Central Asian Countries Initiative for Land Management (CACILM-2), has two major components. First, it will support national governments as they work to integrate resilience strategies into their policies and action plans, and adopt and expand the use of climate-smart agriculture practices. Second, the project will reinforce cooperation and partnership among countries in the region, in particular in the area of policy and investment decisions for drought-prone and salt-affected landscapes.

“Concern has grown about the significant economic, environmental and social impacts of drought in the region, and agriculture is the most vulnerable sector,” Beernaerts said. “The main cause of vulnerability is pressure on available water resources, mostly due to high water withdrawals and deteriorated water quality. Coupled with climate change and anthropogenic (human) pressures, drought is an increasing threat to Central Asia’s water security.”

The project concept was technically cleared by the GEF Secretariat in March 2015, and approved by the GEF Council in early June. FAO will soon begin work with Member Countries in the region, to increase the area under sustainable land management.

19 June 2015, Ankara, Turkey