UN fund backs water projects to help rural poor in Syria and Ethiopia
Roma, Italy, June, 14 2007 -
The United Nations International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) has announced the creation of two new programmes designed to improve irrigation for needy Ethiopian families and to overcome water shortages and create jobs in north-eastern Syria.
Under an agreement signed today in Rome, IFAD’s headquarters, about 190,000 families living in the Syrian provinces of Deir Ezur, Hassake and Raqqa – which are suffering from dwindling water supplies, falling agricultural production and rising unemployment – are expected to benefit from a $58 million project.
The scheme, funded in part by a $20 million low-interest loan from IFAD, will help farmers modernize inefficient irrigation systems, support the creation of farmers’ and craftworkers’ marketing associations and sustainable water user groups, and assist a Syrian bank to set up a microfinance system for poor locals.
Hamid Abdoull, IFAD’s programme manager for Syria, said the project would help small farmers to manage their resources more sustainably and develop their own small businesses.
“We will address the severe water deficit and promote microfinance, micro-enterprise development, marketing, and partnerships with the private sector,” Mr. Abdoull said.
In the Ethiopian agreement, signed yesterday, more than 60,000 families are expected to benefit from a $57.7 million project that is financed in part by a $20 million grant from IFAD and a separate $20 million loan from the same agency.
This project will develop irrigation schemes for about 12,000 hectares of land, reduce land degradation and improve catchment-area planning in a country plagued by frequent droughts and unreliable rains.
The funds will also be used to promote seed production and to establish home vegetable gardens, mainly for local women.