FAO Director-General José Graziano da Silva with President Morales of Bolivia.
16 February 2017, Rome – FAO is assisting Bolivia in its effort to access financial support for improved water management programs in those areas of the Andean nation that have been hardest hit by prolonged drought.
At a meeting here today, FAO Director-General Jose Graziano da Silva and Bolivian President Evo Morales agreed to jointly submit a technical proposal to the UN’s Green Climate Fund requesting $250 million in support for efforts to reduce the impacts of climate change on food security and rural livelihoods in Bolivia.
“This effort represents a clear example of how countries can access the Green Fund and will serve as a model for other nations in similar situations looking to access resources,” said FAO’s Director-General.
Strengthening water security is fundamental to boosting the resilience of small farmers, he said, adding that it would be important to establish institutional mechanisms for overseeing and evaluating how the funding is used.
“People are extremely worried as a result of the drought and lack of rain, so working with FAO we’re examining how the Green Fund can help us address this problem. Guaranteeing water for drinking and irrigation for our indigenous family farmers is equivalent to liberating our communities from poverty,” said President Morales.
Drought a recurring phenomenon
Drought and water scarcity have become recurring problems in Bolivia over the past decade, but the situation has been particularly alarming since 2015.
Due to its geography and terrain, the impacts of climate change in Bolivia are manifesting in the form of hotter and more frequent dry periods, rainy seasons that are shorter but more intense, and an increase in the occurrence of hailstorms and freezes. Degradation of natural resources exacerbates the impacts these climate-related changes are having.
According to FAO, to cope with the impacts of climate changes on agriculture and food security countries must make organizational and technological changes to water management that correspond to the needs of small farmers. Restoring local water cycles is particularly important area for action that is essential to ensuring that communities have access to adequate water resources.
The Green Climate fund is an international funding mechanism established at the 2010 UN Climate Conference that aims to support developing country efforts to adapt to and mitigate the impacts of climate change.
Countries can receive stand-alone grants for simpler projects like well or cistern construction, or loans for more complex projects like the large-scale irrigation systems, either directly from the fund or via accredited implementing agencies, such as FAO.
In the case of the Bolivia proposal, the funding would be challenged directly to that country’s national “Mi Riego” (My Irrigation) program.
The proposal is being developed by a working group comprised of FAO experts and officials from Bolivia’s Ministers for Development Planning and Environment and Water. The group was convened following President Morales request for FAO assistance made at the recently held summit of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States.
One of FAO’s key roles is to assist countries in their efforts to respond to climate change by providing technical assistance, information and data, and other tools to strengthen their adaptive capacities.
For many countries, acquiring the capacity to access and use international financing mechanism represents a critical first step towards greater resilience to climate change.
Camels and quinoa
Graziano da Silva and Morales also discussed Bolivia’s proposal to the UN calling for an “International Year of the Camelid.”
Following the success of the International Year of Quinoa in 2013 – also a Bolivian proposals – the country is hoping to spotlight the contribution these hardy animals can make to supporting farming and food security in other world regions.
The two men also discussed conducting a joint study to review the impacts of the International Year of Quinoa and facilitate more widespread production and consumption of the highly nutritious, grain-like crop sometimes called “Andean superfood.”