FAO Regional Office for Near East and North Africa

FAO Seeks to Broaden Scope of Regional Initiatives to Address Systemic risks in NENA

Disbursement amounted to USD 154 Million in 2014-2015


The Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (FAO) announced that the resources mobilised and delivered for development projects and endorsed initiatives in the Near East and North Africa (NENA) region between 2014 and 2015 totalled USD 154.3 million -- 7.6 percent increase compared to 2012-2014. It also called for best practice responses for sustainable land and water management.

The announcement was made at a working session to examine a report on “Results and Priorities for FAO in NENA Region,” as part of the 33d Regional Conference for the NENA Region, which is currently taking place in the Italian capital, Rome. Senior representatives from the NENA region are attending the conference, which concludes on 13 May.

In a presentation on the FAO results and priorities in the region, Abdessalam Ould Ahmed, Assistant Director-General and Regional Representative at the FAO Regional Office for NENA, said: “The implementation of FAO’s 2014-2015 three Regional Initiatives for the NENA -- Building Resilience for Food Security and Nutrition (FSN); Small-Scale Agriculture for Inclusive Development (SSA); and Water Scarcity Initiative (WSI) -- highlighted their valuable contribution to focusing the FAO programmes in countries, while leaving flexibility to respond to country priorities and emerging needs.”

He added: “The organisation of FAO work in the region under the three initiatives has improved synergy and integration among activities and led to a better understanding of FAO's work across partners and member countries, strengthened regional networking around programmes and issues and improved monitoring and reporting of results.”

Ould Ahmed said: “One of the key priorities for FAO in the region in the 2016-17 biennium will be to help countries in pursuing the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Work will be carried out through the three regional initiatives at country level, guided by the Country Programme Frameworks. It will focus on crisis-affected countries where well-timed food security interventions can build resilience to conflict and may also contribute to conflict prevention or peace.”

He added: “Focus will also be given to scaling up activities, expanding agricultural employment and integrating social protection into agricultural strategies as well as guidance and capacity building related to agribusiness and food value chain development.”

On the main areas of work in the region during 2016-2017, the FAO official said the WSI will scale up its support for strategic planning and policies, capacity building on water accounting, water productivity monitoring, drought management and groundwater governance, climate change scenario analysis. Strengthen Innovation in agriculture water management with support to development of hydroponics, particularly in the GCC countries, and support large scale adoption and use of solar energy for irrigation.

As for the SSA initiative, Ould Ahmed said: “The main areas of FAO work in the next biennium include support for small holder productivity and access to markets; promotion of inclusive agri-food value chains; capacity building and professionalization of producer organisations; social protection and youth employment."

Under the FSN initiative, he said the FAO “will strengthen its intervention along its five main focus areas of work: food security Information systems; food security policy and institutions; resilience building interventions; food losses and wastes and plant and pest diseases control.”

On FAO’s future work priorities, the official said there are four global trends with regional implications: High population growth rates, continued urbanization and the large number of new entrants to the labour market each year with implication for youth unemployment and migration; slowing global economic growth and continuing decline in  commodity prices, including oil, which is the main export product of the region; natural resource constraints to agricultural production, particularly water; and global warming, climate change and environmental degradation in developing countries, with possible multiple ripple effects on food availability and food and energy prices.

He added that there are five regional trends: Conflict and upheaval and related social and economic impacts, in particular forced displacement and migration; sluggish economic growth, poor fiscal outlook and low investor confidence; rising levels of import dependence and exposure to market shocks, including dependence on energy exports for oil-producing countries in the region and consequent vulnerability; spatial inequality and inequities affecting youth and women; malnutrition; and transboundary animal and plant pests and diseases. 

Ould Ahmed said these factors necessitate broadening the scope of the regional initiatives to help countries address the systemic risks, including protracted crisis, water scarcity, climate change, rural poverty, youth unemployment and women empowerment.

In this context, he stressed the need for strengthening the role of the agriculture sector and rural livelihoods as stabilizers of the economy and in peace; regional cooperation and integration in response both to crises and to long term food security needs; risk management instruments to mitigate supply-side shocks; efficient and sustainable food systems, strengthening integration and efficiency along the value chain of reducing losses and wastage; mainstreaming nutrition into programmes; and mainstreaming  gender.

Ould Ahmed concluded: “A new medium-term plan for 2018-21 will be drafted in 2016 through the Regional Conferences and Technical Committees, for approval by the Council and Conference in the first half of 2017, taking account of the results in the region during 2014-15. This offers the opportunity to further focus FAO’s work aiming for more concrete results particularly at country level."