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Projects launched to help manage natural resources amid climate change


environment-projectsTwo United Nations-backed projects have been launched to help local communities around Afghanistan manage natural resources and protect livelihoods in the face of climate change.


The projects, supported by the UN Development Programme (UNDP), were launched on Sunday by senior government and UN officials in the capital, Kabul. Funding of more than $17 million will be provided through the UN and the Global Environment Facility (GEF), an independently operating financial organization which provides grants for projects related to biodiversity, climate change, international waters and land degradation, among other environmental challenges.

“Under the agreement, the GEF provides $15.4 million and UNDP provides $2 million to protect biodiversity and adapt to climate change and support livelihoods,” according to a UNDP Programme Officer, Mohammad Salim.

The five-year projects, which start this year, will help Afghan communities withstand the effects of climate change and manage natural resources, including water, according to UNDP. Although 60 per cent of the Afghan workforce is employed in agriculture, most cultivable land receives less than 400 millimetres of precipitation per year. As the climate changes, Afghanistan is facing prolonged drought, erratic rainfall and extreme temperatures which are negatively affecting agricultural productivity, and the poorest Afghans are the most vulnerable to these changing conditions.

The projects will be implemented in the provinces of Badakhshan, Balkh, Bamyan, Herat, Panjshir and Uruzgan, in partnership with the Ministry of Agriculture, Irrigation and Livestock, the National Environmental Protection Agency and the Wildlife Conservation Society.

One project, ‘Strengthening the Resilience of Rural Livelihood Options for Afghan Communities,’ will respond to the disaster risks of climate change by building awareness and planning capacity, demonstrating adaptation activities, and promoting appropriate policy measures.

The second project, ‘Establishing integrated models for protected areas and their co-management,’ will establish a strong framework for a nation-wide system of protected areas, and promote sustainable land management practices to manage natural resources and protect biodiversity, with particular emphasis on the economic empowerment of women.