WASHINGTON, May 27, 2010 – The Agro-biodiversity and Climate Adaptation project will be implemented in Yemen with over US$5.0 million extending over four years, including a US$4.0 million grant from the Global Environment Facility (GEF), which will be administered by the World Bank.
The project aims to enhance capacity and awareness at key national agencies and at local levels, to respond to climate variability and change and to better equip local communities to cope with climate change through the conservation and use of agro-biodiversity.
The project will encourage water harvesting and increasing irrigation efficiency as part of a climate-resilient “win-win strategy”. It will also include climate considerations in the identification and improvement of some select landraces to test for drought and heat tolerance.
The main components of the Project will be to build on traditional knowledge of farmers and develop an inventory of local agro-biodiversity; to raise awareness on climatic changes and develop initial local predictive capacity of weather patterns and long-term climate change scenarios for the country, to develop climate resilient rain-fed agriculture strategy, and put in place project management, coordination, monitoring and evaluation systems.
The World Bank Group has a long-term involvement in the agriculture sector in Yemen. “IDA has been supporting the development of the agriculture sector in Yemen for over three decades. Past portfolio included projects in agricultural research and extension, as well as productivity improvement”, said Benson Ateng, World Bank Yemen Country Manager. “Recent IDA projects have focused on groundwater and soil conservation, irrigation improvement, and on rainfed agriculture and livestock,” he added.
The Government's rural development and agricultural development strategies not only stress the importance of agriculture as the driving force for development in the rainfed highlands of Yemen, but also the need to take advantage of local agro-biodiversity and local knowledge to prevent further land degradation and to help farmers adapt to climate change.
The new project addresses one of the current Country Assistance Strategy’s objectives, namely, to ‘help manage natural resources scarcity and natural risks’ and thematic areas which is meant to mitigate the impact of natural disasters and invest in climate change adaptation as well as to support selected drivers of non-oil growth, in particular, increasing agricultural productivity in rainfed areas.
“Rainfed agriculture is the primary means of livelihood and a safety net for a majority of the rural poor in Yemeni highlands, and it is critical that these communities learn to cope with climate change through win-win strategies and diversify their incomes through the use of the rich agro-biodiversity in the highlands”, commented Kanta K. Rigaud, World Bank Task Team Leader.
Agriculture development in the past has largely focused on irrigated areas. However, more than half of the country’s cultivated land is under rain-fed and subsistence farming conditions. For the nearly 84% of the poor in the rural areas that depend on rain-fed agriculture, it is the primary source of livelihood and food security.