UNODC, UNIDO to promote development in rural communities dependent on drug crops

Photo: UNIDO Director-General Kandeh K. Yumkella (right) shakes hands with UNODC Executive Director Yury Fedotov at the signing ceremony19 March 2012 - UNODC and the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) will join forces to promote grass-roots development in poor rural communities dependent on the cultivation of illicit drug crops.

An agreement on this was signed in Vienna today by UNODC Executive Director, Yury Fedotov, and UNIDO Director-General, Kandeh K. Yumkella.

"The memorandum of understanding will help establish a strategic partnership in the spirit of One UN that supports sustainable development and the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals in countries such as Afghanistan," said Mr. Fedotov.

Fedotov and Yumkella underlined the complementary relationship between industrial development, job creation, drug control and crime prevention as vehicles for poverty alleviation, and the enhancement of human security, economic growth and sustainable development.

Yumkella added: "I am confident that the first and ultimate beneficiaries of our joint work will be those living at the grass-root level, the poor rural communities that often find themselves dependent on the cultivation of drug crops. We need to ensure that they are provided the tools to support their livelihoods, through capacity building activities and job opportunities. Afghanistan could be a pilot country to develop a joint UNODC-UNIDO pilot project."

A central focus of the agreement is the strengthening of alternative development projects in poor rural communities dependent on the cultivation of drug crops. By promoting socio-economic transformation, local communities have a stake in building a sustainable future.

The current agreement builds on a previous joint UNODC/UNIDO project to provide alternative livelihoods for opium poppy growing communities in the Lao People's Democratic Republic (PDR). The project has focused on rehabilitating opium addicts and involving them in income-generating activities; providing social services and basic infrastructure; and improving market access for products.

Bolivia, Colombia, the Lao PDR, Peru and Thailand are among countries that have successfully implemented development-oriented drug control. In the Andean countries, jobs have been created through forestry activities and vocational training, while food security and nutrition have also been enhanced. A particularly beneficial effect is the empowerment of rural women who have set up their own businesses with micro-credit.  Environmental benefits have resulted from reforestation projects, which help to capture carbon in the atmosphere.

In promoting alternative development, UNIDO will focus on private sector development with emphasis on micro-, small and medium enterprises, agro-business development and environmental management.

UNODC will focus on limiting the dependence of small and marginalized farming communities on illicit drug crop cultivation through the creation of legitimate livelihoods.

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