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World Bank Supports Sustainable Land Management In Bhutan

 

Washington, D.C., January 17, 2006 -The World Bank's Board of Directors today
approved a US$7.66 million grant from the Global Environment Facility (GEF) to
strengthen institutional and community capacity for anticipating and managing
land degradation in Bhutan.

"The Sustainable Land Management Project will provide approaches, tools, and
interventions to reverse damage to land due to weak policies, overgrazing, forest degradation, and unsustainable agricultural practices of the past," said Malcolm Jansen, World Bank Senior Environmental Specialist and Task Leader for the project. "The effort will also help support decentralized decision making on land management issues and help broaden the sources of livelihood and well being of selected local communities in Bhutan."

Land degradation is emerging as a key environmental problem in Bhutan despite
environmental conservation occupying a pivotal place in the national development policies and programs. Factors such as increased pace of infrastructure development, unsustainable agricultural practices, overgrazing, and deforestation combine with natural factors such as the country's inherently fragile geologic conditions, rugged topography and heavy monsoon rains to exacerbate land degradation in many areas of the country.

Project success will be measured by showing (i) an increase in the number of farmers practicing sustainable land management techniques and (ii) the number of geogs (local government administrative areas) developing and implementing land degradation prevention plans. In addition, the project aims to see a 10 percent reduction of sediment flow in selected micro-watersheds in project areas.

The project is designed around four main components:

Pilot projects to demonstrate effective application of land degradation prevention approaches
Mainstreaming of practices for protection against land degradation
Policy support and guidance for mainstreaming land degradation prevention practices
National-level support for coordination of implementation of land degradation
prevention practices.

The project supports the goals of the new Country Assistance Strategy (for the
period FY2006-2009) by emphasizing the need to support environmental efforts.

In addition to the GEF grant of US$7.66 million , parallel financing will
enhance the project with approximately US$5.77 million from DANIDA and around
US$2.46 million from the Royal Government of Bhutan.

The Global Environment Facility (GEF), established in 1991, helps developing
countries fund projects and programs that protect the global environment. GEF
grants support projects related to biodiversity, climate change, international
waters, land degradation, the ozone layer, and persistent organic pollutants.

The World Bank Group is one of GEF's implementing agencies (along with the
United Nations Development Program and the United Nations Environmental
Program) and supports countries in preparing GEF co-financed projects and
supervising their implementation. The Bank plays the primary role in ensuring
the development and management of investment projects. The Bank draws upon its
investment experience in eligible countries to promote investment opportunities
and to mobilize private sector, bilateral, multilateral, and other government
and nongovernment sector resources that are consistent with GEF objectives and
national sustainable development strategies.

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