World Bank loan to fight poverty in rural Algeria
The World Bank has approved a $95 million loan to the Government of Algeria to generate employment in low-income, rural mountainous areas of northwest and north-central Algeria.
The Second Rural Employment Project seeks to raise the standard of living for Algeria's rural poor and follows the first Rural Employment Project in north-west Algeria, which succeeded in engaging the local community, increasing employment and farmers' income, as well as reducing soil erosion.
Poverty and unemployment are disproportionately high in rural Algeria. A study on growth, employment and poverty reduction based on 1995 data revealed that 70 percent of the poor in Algeria live in rural areas, equivalent to a total of 2.7 million people, and that there is a close relationship between poverty and unemployment. Rural communities are also affected by underemployment due to the seasonal nature of agricultural activities and conditions have worsened as a result of the persistent drought in the country over the last decade.
In response to these challenges, the Government of Algeria developed a National Agricultural and Rural Development Plan in 2000 to promote food security, identify and exploit resources with potential growth impact, and protect the environment.
The Rural Employment Project falls in line with the Government's National Agricultural and Rural Development Plan, incorporating both short and long-term responses to the critical unemployment situation in rural communities. The project addresses the immediate problem of unemployment by creating jobs using labor-intensive civil works for natural resource management with emphasis on controlling soil erosion.
The longer-term perspective focuses on agricultural development, enhancing the availability of assets and natural resources that can be used directly or indirectly in productive activities, such as substituting perennial-tree crops in place of annual cereal production. The project also strives to integrate women into rural development by responding to their different needs and priorities, including young women who are interested in vocational training and women heads of household who want income-generating activities such as small livestock production and cultivating fruit trees.
Another aspect of the project will capture and manage existing water resources to relieve the risks associated with rainfed production, expand small-scale irrigation where possible, and make clean potable water available to the rural population. The project will be implemented in a decentralized manner, using competitive methods focusing on small and medium enterprises and emphasizing participatory approaches to enhance community involvement, all of which have proven to be effective under the ongoing first Rural Employment Project.
Training will be provided to the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development as well as the central and local project units to ensure effective implementation of the project. The Rural Employment Project is consistent with the World Bank's rural development strategy and the Middle East and North Africa region's strategy which tackles the social problems of poverty and unemployment, addresses gender issues, promotes diversification and encourages small and medium enterprise in the private sector. — (menareport.com)
© 2003 Mena Report (www.menareport.com)