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The DryArc Initiative: a CGIAR Research Center partnership aiming to strengthen the resilience of rural communities and agri-food systems across the Global Drylands

25/09/2019 - 

Rabat, Morocco - FAO was invited by the Director-General of the International Center for Agricultural Research in the Dry Areas (ICARDA) to attend the DryArc Initiative Co-Design Workshop, and provide inputs and suggestions for a new research for impact initiative of eight centers of the CGIAR  This cross-CGIAR partnership includes: the International Center for Agricultural Research in the Dry Areas (ICARDA), the International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT), the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA), the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center (CIMMYT), the WorldFish, the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI), the International Water Management Institute (IWMI), and the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI).

This research partnership aims to strengthen the resilience of rural communities and agri-food systems across the global drylands of the Middle East and North Africa, South, Central, and West Asia as well as Sub-Saharan Africa, which represent the DryArc region. It is important to highlight that the initiative is aligned with the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, and is based on a system approach.

The four pillars of the DryArc action towards achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are: combining knowledge (local, regional, international) to design systemic innovations, accelerating scaling up of impactful target innovations, continuous integration of disruptive technologies, and enabling institutional environment (decision-making, M&E, absorptive capacity, investment).

The dryland region is considered the most vulnerable to climate variability and change. Along with the rapid population growth, the communities of the drylands are increasingly exposed to the risk of livelihoods shocks and losses. Several of these communities are further plagued by conflicts, social unrest, and protracted crises.

In order to provide a response to these multiples challenges, the eight CGIAR centers have joined forces with the National Agricultural Research Systems (NARS), and other key development stakeholders, such as FAO and the Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences (CAAS), to discuss and co-draft this new initiative, which is specifically designed to drive market-led innovations for sustainable agricultural intensification of the drylands, contributing to sustained ecosystem services and reduced water scarcity, and adaptation to climate change (heat, drought, floods, glacier loss).

During the Workshop the main implementation modalities of the initiative were discussed, and it was pointed out by FAO that they are in line with South-South and Triangular Cooperation (SSTC), which is basically identifying innovation and strategies that have worked in one place of the world, and adapting and scaling it up to other regions, through knowledge and technology exchanges.

There are enormous possibilities to enhance SSTC to support expertise-sharing among countries affected by drought, as, in particular, the SSC between North Africa and Sub-Saharan Africa, but also between Africa and Asia and through the inclusion of triangular partners.

Moreover, on the last day of the workshop, the policy advice component for countries to adapt was emphasized. FAO works with all the levels of SSTC exchanges, and particularly on this issue, the organization has a comparative advantage in upstreaming policy support for effective SSTC, facilitating and providing a platform for countries to exchange and/or jointly develop policies. 

As for the next steps, FAO will continue to work closely with the CGIAR Centers to draft a concrete work plan of a possible tripartite partnership among the CGIAR, FAO and CAAS, focusing on resilience building for drylands and climate change adaptation. FAO’s Office of South-South and Triangular Cooperation (OSS) is making all the efforts to strengthen the collaboration with CGIAR, and national agricultural research systems (NARS), as well as relevant universities of Member Countries, in order to enhance its portfolio of providers of expertise through SSTC.