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$35m project to improve water management, agriculture

ISLAMABAD: The board of Green Climate Fund (GCF) on Sunday approved financing of $35 million for a project of the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) of the United Nations to transform the Indus River Basin by improving agriculture and water management to make the vital food-producing region more resilient to climate change.

The approval of the first FAO-led GCF project in Asia at the board’s meeting in Songdo, South Korea, is being seen as an important step forward in the FAO’s support for countries to respond to climate change in partnership with the new fund created to support the efforts of developing countries against climate change.

In the Indus River Basin, agriculture employs nearly 26 per cent of Pakistan’s labour force and produces more than 90pc of the country’s agriculture outputs. How­ever, extended droughts and floods have affected millions of people in recent years.

Such extreme weather events are ex­­pected to become more frequent and severe in Pakistan as a result of climate change.

As temperatures continue to rise and precipitation patterns continue to change, water will become increasingly scarce and difficult for farmers to utilise, jeopardising the food security and livelihoods of Indus Basin farmers, as well as overall food security in Pakistan.

Welcoming the decision of GCF, FAO Deputy Director General of Climate and Natural Resources Maria Helena Semedo said: “We are at a critical moment that calls for bold climate action that can stimulate concrete solutions to help build resilience. The approval of this project — the first FAO-led GCF project in Asia — is an important step forward in FAO’s broader support to countries to respond to climate change, in partnership with the GCF.”

The project is worth over $47m and stands to directly benefit 1.3m people. The provincial governments of Punjab and Sindh have committed an additional $12.7m in co-financing to be managed by FAO.

“This new FAO project, thanks to support from the GCF and the government, will help shift Pakistan and its Indus Basin agriculture from a current situation of high vulnerability toward an alternative paradigm wherein better information, water management and farming practices will significantly increase resilience to climate change,” said Mina Dowlatchahi, FAO representative in Pakistan.

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