Drylands are home to the poorest, the hungriest and the most marginalized people of the world. In many areas, the natural resources on which their livelihoods depend are degraded in ways that contribute directly to their low level of well-being. Drylands cover most of the Arab Region and are home to approx. 70% of its population. Over millennia, dryland communities have lived with variable rainfall and frequent droughts using a range of coping strategies, but population pressure and the changing natural and socio-economic environments are pushing these communities faster than they can adapt. This is occurring at a great cost to livelihoods and the supporting natural resource base. Today, drylands suffer from desertification, land degradation and drought (DLDD) and their populations, agriculture and ecosystems are becoming alarmingly vulnerable.

Climate models are predicting a hotter, drier and less predictable climate in the Region which is already considered the world's most water-scarce. The legacy of conflict in the Region further undermines the ability of countries and communities to adapt to climate change. Ultimately, climate change presents an even more serious challenge than it would otherwise and dryland communities in the Region are practically left on their own to deal with both the natural and man-made predicaments.

Enhancing drylands livelihoods and building resilience of drylands communities to the effects of drought is the largest focal area of the Programme. Programme support under this area focuses on engaging stakeholders and leveraging complementary financial/technical resources to promote sustainable land and water management practices, maximize the revenue from agricultural production- through transformation, value-adding, efficient supply chains and enhanced market access - and enhance livelihood diversification and off-farm employment.

Programme interventions under this focal area are implemented in:

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