UN Projects Tackle Desertification in the Mid-East, Asia and Africa
UN Photo/Martine Perret
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Through its Near East and North Africa Water Scarcity Initiative, FAO is supporting a land restoration plan by the Government of Egypt.

The China-UN Peace and Development Trust Fund launched the Juncao Technology project, which will disseminate agricultural technologies to African and Asian countries to help reduce hunger and soil erosion while enhancing access to sustainable energy.

June 2017: The China-UN Peace and Development Trust Fund and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN (FAO) have launched land restoration initiatives that may also help countries progress towards sustainable energy, agriculture and water management. The Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN (FAO) is supporting the conversion of desert to cultivable land in Egypt, while the China-UN Peace and Development Trust Fund launched a project on Juncao Technology that could be tailored to countries’ needs across the Middle East, Africa and Asia.

A FAO analysis estimates that 90% of the total Middle East and North Africa (MENA) land area lying within arid, semi-arid and dry sub-humid areas, and 45% of the total agricultural area is exposed to salinity, soil nutrient depletion and wind-water erosion. The agency also notes that agriculture in the region uses “around 85% of the total available freshwater,” with more than 60% of water resources flowing from outside national and regional boundaries. Through its Near East and North Africa Water Scarcity Initiative, FAO is addressing these issues by supporting a land restoration plan by the Government of Egypt, known as the “1.5 million feddan initiative.” It aims to reclaim up to two million hectares of desert land for agricultural and other use (one feddan is equivalent to 0.42 hectares).

During a visit to Egypt, FAO Director-General Jose Graziano da Silva stressed that access to water is a fundamental need for food security, human health and agriculture, and its looming scarcity in the region is a “huge challenge requiring an urgent and massive response.” He called for Egypt to “look seriously into the choice of crops and the patterns of consumption,” notably the use of scarce water stocks to cultivate wheat.

Graziano da Silva called looming water scarcity in the MENA region is a “huge challenge requiring an urgent and massive response.”

To disseminate agricultural technologies, reduce hunger, enhance sustainable energy and address soil erosion in African and Asian countries, the China-UN Peace and Development Trust Fund launched the Juncao Technology project in May 2017. According to remarks by China’s Permanent Representative to the UN, Liu Jieyi, Juncao, the technology is an agricultural approach that replaces wood with grass and can be used to grow edible and medicinal fungi, feed livestock, produce clean energy and prevent erosion. In the dry Ningxia region of northwestern China, it is estimated that Juncao technologies helped to raise farmers’ annual income from US$80 in 1998 to US$1,024 in 2007.

Speaking during the launch event, Jerry Matthews Matjia, Ambassador of South Africa to the UN, described the Juncao project as a good example of South-South cooperation and reported that his country had adopted the innovative technology to fight desertification, develop bio-fuels and improve health conditions.

The Juncao project is part of a package of initiatives to be funded under an agreement between China and the UN. According to Chinese news sources, China will contribute $200 million to the UN over 10 years to the UN Peace and Development Trust Fund to support peace and security and implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. The Fund was launched in May 2017. [Website of the FAO Near East and North Africa Water Scarcity Initiative] [SDG Knowledge Hub Story on WDCD 2017] [Xinhua Story on Launch of the Juncao Technology Project] [Remarks by Liu Jieyi] [State Council of People’s Republic of China Press Release]

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