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8102: Caribbean: UN official urges region to combat land degradation (fwd)




From: Max Blanchet <maxblanchet@worldnet.att.net>

1.   Caribbean: UN official urges region to combat land degradation

Caribbean: UN official urges region to combat land degradation
BBC Monitoring Service - United Kingdom; May 29, 2001

Text of report by Caribbean news agency Cana

Kingston, Jamaica, 29 May: A United Nations official is urging Caribbean
nations to integrate plans to combat land degradation into their development
programmes.

Hama Arba Diallo, executive secretary of the United Nations Convention to
Combat Desertification (UNCCD), made the comments at Monday's [28 May]
opening of the UNCCD/ACP (African, Caribbean and Pacific) consultation,
being hosted by the Government of Jamaica at the Jamaica Conference Centre.

Diallo said that although unemployment and the battle for market share in
the global economy might seem like more immediate concerns for the nations
in the region, the preservation and restoration of land must rank high on
the agenda.

He said that drought and land degradation were "real issues for the region
and if the Caribbean fails to address them it would be doing this at its
future peril".

He added that although land "has been central to Caribbean economic
prosperity", the region was now at a point where the land was losing its
productivity and "drought is always at the backdoor of many Caribbean
countries".

An example of how serious the problem can become is the situation in Haiti
where 4,000 acres of land are destroyed each year.

Describing the circumstances in Haiti, Vernet Joseph, a UNCCD representative
in the country, said that 80 per cent of the population depended on the land
for survival and most of them utilized the resource in unsustainable ways.

"The problem of degradation in Haiti is grave and it affects the entire
population of the country and has caused some amount of poverty," he said in
an interview.

Diallo said that the UNCCD/ACP meeting was crucial, as the aim of the
consultation was to advise ACP countries on how to gain access to the
funding earmarked for drought prevention programmes by the European Union
under the Cotonou Agreement.

The agreement, the successor to the Lome Convention, stipulates that ACP
countries must have a National Indicative Plan (NIP) that outlines sectors
that are in need of financial assistance, in order to gain access to EU
funding.

The two-day conference will examine ways in which the ACP countries can have
their programmes to combat drought and land degradation included in their
NIPs.

Over 40 delegates, including 15 representatives from Caribbean countries are
attending.

Source: Cana news agency, Bridgetown, in English 1513 gmt 29 May 01

/BBC Monitoring/  BBC