The Ethiopian government has received nearly two billion birr to implement the second phase of a project designed to decrease land degradation and improve its productivity. The Ministry of Finance and Economic Development (MoFED) signed the agreement of approximately 1.95 billion birr with the World Bank (WB) on Tuesday December 10 for the Sustainable Land Management (SLM) Project . USD 50 million of this amount comes from the WB via a loan agreement while the government of Norway contributed USD 40 million in grants. USD 13 million of this was financed by the Global Environment Facility. Sufian Ahmed, Minister of Finance and Economic Development, signed the agreement with Guang Zhe Chen , Country Director for the WB . Chen, believes that Ethiopia is a leader in the African region, when it comes to tackling the adverse impact of climate change. He pointed to Ethiopia's climate resilience and green economic strategy and said this project will enhance that strategy by raising the productivity of land resources and promoting climate smart agriculture by introducing and expanding sustainable land and water management practices. The project is due to directly or indirectly benefit close to 1.7 million people in six regional states namely Amhara, Tigray, Oromia, SNNP, Gambela, and Benishangul Gumuz.Sufian said that this phase will attempt to reduce land degradation and improve its quality in selected watersheds and targeted regions by using the methods and technology tested in the first phase. The Minister said the project is in line with the second pillar of the Growth and Transformation Plan, which focuses on maintaining agricultural growth through expanding watershed supervision and implementing effective water management and water moisture retaining strategies. This phase two SLM project, which will be implemented in 135 watersheds or weredas, throughout the country, has four components. According to the Minister the SLM will focus on improving and adopting new technology and methods for smallholder farmers and communities around watersheds to manage their land in a more sustainable manner. They then plan to work with government agencies and other people that have a stake in managing land and water resources to learn how to do so more effectively. The program also will work to help small farmers become more financially secure so that they will become motivated to adopt sustainable land and water management practices. The Minister said the project will support the Ministry of Agriculture (MoA) to make sure resources are delivered and that results and progress of the project are documented. The cost of land degradation in Ethiopia is estimated to be between two and three percent of agricultural Gross Domestic Product (GDP), according to the WB?
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