The Programme supported the establishment of a firm basis for CCD implementation in the Arab States Region. This was done through advocacy, capacity building, resource mobilization and innovative programming. Focus is put on NAP processes, mainstreaming drylands issues into development frameworks, promotion of good governance for natural resources, enhancing market access for the dryland poor and promotion of sustainable livelihoods for affected drylands communities.

National Action Programs (NAPs)
At the onset of the Programme, sixteen Arab countries had ratified the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) and most of them were in the early stages of the NAP process. The Programme was launched in response to demand from Morocco, Tunisia and Algeria (in North Africa) and Lebanon, Syria and Jordan (in West Asia). The Programme facilitated a participatory approach to the elaboration of the NAP, ensuring the participation of affected communities in the assessment of needs and definition of priorities.

In Morocco, the Programme supported the organization of the NAP Validation Forum including the preparation of thematic papers on "multi-sector coordination" and "participatory approaches to local development". Subsequently, it provided technical assistance and funding to the "Programme d'appui à la lutte contre la pauvreté rurale, la désertification et les effets de la sécheresse" (PAL-PDS), an innovative initiative promoting an integrated approach to rural development. The guiding principles and lessons learned from PAL-PDS implementation (multi-sector coordination, participation of the poor, flexible funding mechanisms and local extension services) served for the design/implementation of a new generation of programmes/initiatives in Morocco including the National Human Development Initiative.
Ever since 2010, the Programme has been supporting the project entitled "Programme de Développement Territorial Durable des Oasis du Sud" (PDTS), which came as a result of the restructuring of the Oasis project which was conducted with interventions targeting the Provinces of Gulemim, Tata, Tan Tan and Assa-Zag, in oder to enhance alignment with new policy orientations and field realitites.
Moreover, the Programme is currently supporting the establishment of “Cluster Oasis du Sahara (COS)”, a major national initiative to promote livelihood diversification (ecotourism), market access, and adaptation to climate change in the southern oases of Morocco.

In Tunisia, the Programme supported the elaboration of regional/sub-national action programs to combat desertification in 4 governorates (Kef, Kasserine, Siliana and Zaghouane). These programs represent major tools for regional planning and for integrating dryland development priorities in national plans/budgets including the Eleventh National Socio-Economic Development Plan (2007 – 2011). The Programme is currently supporting the implementation of the regional action program in the Governorate of Kasserine and is seeking to establish a local development platform to mobilize partners and resources and drive the local development process.
Moreover, the Programme is supporting the project “Gouvernance Locale de l’Eau Potable en Milieu Rural” implemented by the Ministry of Agriculture in collaboration with UNDP Tunisia with the objective to enhance access to drinking water in rural areas.

In Algeria, the Programme focused on strengthening the institutional framework for CCD implementation including the elaboration of the NAP. The Programme contributed to the establishment of a national Desertification/Pastoralism Fund (Fonds de lutte contre la désertification et de développement du pastoralisme et de la steppe); this fund is currently operational with significant resources being channeled for local/drylands development.
More recently, the Programme has been supporting NAP alignment with national development frameworks, and has supported  the development of a capacity building project aimed at building the capacity of the "Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development" in Algeria for the implementation of the Rural Renewal Program, a major national initiative for poverty alleviation in rural areas and which serves as an appropriate vehicle for the implementation of NAP priorities.

In Lebanon, the Programme supported national consultations including the organization of focus group meetings on priority thematic areas to elaborate the NAP. Together with the Global Mechanism of the UNCCD, the Programme contributed the development of a resource mobilisation strategy for NAP implementation.
The Programme is currently supporting the project entitled “Rural Dryland Development through Innovative Market Approaches” with the objective of enhancing market access for small drylands producers particularly women cooperatives. Activities include: 1) Capacity building on production methods, quality assurance and packaging; 2) Mobilization of producers and establishment of necessary linkages to ensure sufficient quantity and regularity of supply for market outlets; and 3) Networking with potential national, regional and European markets.

In Syria, Programme support led to the elaboration of the NAP and its approval by the Supreme Council for Environmental Safety (headed by the Prime Minister). The NAP was subsequently integrated in the 9th Five Year Development Plan. Multi-sector priority programme briefs were developed, endorsed and submitted to donors for funding.
More recently, the Programme provided support to the project entitled "Integrated Community Development for Scaling-up the MDG's" aiming at enhancing community adaptation to drought within a major national initiative in the North Eastern areas of Syria.

In Jordan, the Programme contributed to strengthening the institutional framework for CCD implementation, including the elaboration of the NAP and the development of a resource mobilisation strategy for its implementation.
The Programme also supported the development of a GEF project aiming to integrate biodiversity conservation and sustainable land management practices in development activities – primarily tourism - in Petra. It also supported the elaboration of a project entitled “Groundwater Governance in the Highlands” aiming to facilitate the implementation of Jordan’s Water Strategy and hence to improve effective groundwater management through better water governance. 

Mainstreaming, Partners and Resources Mobilization
The Programme was conceived to support UNCCD implementation in the region. Initially, the focus was on processes; assistance was geared towards the elaboration of the NAPs. Following the successful elaboration of the NAPs, the focus shifted to their implementation through the promotion of an integrated approach to drylands development (stressing poverty/environment linkages) and the mobilization of partners and resources for programming. In doing so, the Programme acts as a catalyst for drylands development; it provides policy advice, technical assistance and seed funding to develop innovative programs/projects and mobilizes partners and resources for their implementation. All through, it deploys significant efforts to integrate UNCCD implementation and drylands issues into both UNDP and national planning and budgeting frameworks. Through this sustained process, the Programme succeeded to establish credible relationships with a variety of national, regional and international partners leading to the mobilization of significant financial resources for dryland development in Programme countries.

Advocacy and Knowledge Sharing
Increasingly, the Programme is investing efforts towards raising the profile of drylands in the international development agenda, mainly Climate Change and the MDGs. The objective of these efforts is twofold: 1) to highlight the potential of drylands towards the fulfillment of this agenda; and 2) to mobilize partners and resources for drylands development given the urgent need for stepped up efforts to achieve the MDGs and adapt to/mitigate the effects of climate change in the Arab Region.
In this context, it engaged in a number of initiatives including:

  1. Contribution to the publication  “The Forgotten Billion: MDG Achievement in the Drylands" produced jointly with the UNCCD Secretariat for theMDG Summit (Sep. 2010);
  2. Participation in the “Arab Climate Resilience Initiative” to join policy leaders and experts in examining policy priorities to deal with climate change in the Arab Region;
  3. Organization of a side event entitled  “Advocacy and resource mobilization to alleviate the effects of climate change in the drylands” during the 16th Conference of the Parties to the UNFCCC (Cancun, Dec. 2010), with the objective of supportting Programme partners in Morocco to mobilize climate finance for the conservation of threatened oases;
  4. Contribution to the UN Decade for Deserts and the Fight against Desertification (UNDDD) by contributing to the elaboration of the Decade's Strategy and Action Plan and supporting the Launch of the Decade and its observances, noting that the UNDP Drylands Development Centre (and the Programme) is an active member of the Inter-Agency Task Force implementing the UNDDD.

Additionally, the Programme serves as a platform for South-South cooperation particularly among its partner countries. A partners' gathering is organized annually - on the occasion of the Advisory Committee meeting -  to enhance experience exchange and knowledge sharing.

For more detailed information regarding the achievements and activities of the Programme, please visit the "Countries" section in this website.

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