UNbacked programme assists the poor in mountainous areas

The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) has launched a new programme to bolster development efforts in mountain communities, in which almost one-third – or 245 million people – of the world’s hungry live.The Decentralized Cooperation scheme pools FAO’s knowledge together with the resources and expertise of highland communities in Italy, France and Spain to aid fellow mountainous region dwellers in developing countries.With a total budget of $13 million, 18 projects will target the neediest mountain areas in the world.“Mountain people often have a natural connection despite vast geographic distance and different income levels and lifestyles,” said José Antonio Prado, FAO’s Forest Management Division Director.Local groups in countries of differing levels of prosperity will share skills and traditional practices, referred to as decentralized cooperation, and this benefits the poor by providing access to resources, education, goods and services.Problems faced in developing countries are compounded in highland areas by the climate, limited transportation options and isolation from urban areas.Wealthier countries also stand to benefit from such an alliance through new markets for goods, through the development of new products such as specialty coffees and medicinal plants and through the protection of valuable natural repositories of freshwater.While only 12 percent of the world’s population lives in mountainous regions – which cover one-quarter of the earth’s surface – many of these people are chronically undernourished even though mountains are the source of half of the world’s freshwater supply.Aid to mountain communities in developing nations could be crucial in protecting and improving freshwater resources while also bridging the economic gap between those living in the highlands and lowlands.FAO is also involved in other projects designed to alleviate the plight of the mountain poor, hosting the Secretariat of the Mountain Partnership, which was established in 2002 and comprises 47 countries, 15 intergovernmental organizations and 82 private sector and civil society groups. 20 June 2007The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) has launched a new programme to bolster development efforts in mountain communities, in which almost one-third – or 245 million people – of the world’s hungry live. read more