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THE ROLE OF THE INTERIM SECRETARIAT

: The Philippines, on behalf of the G-77 and China, said that with respect to urgent action for Africa, the Interim Secretariat should focus on capacity building, training and promotion and elaboration of national, subregional and regional programmes. The Interim Secretariat should also: collate relevant information from affected African countries; make the necessary contacts with UN field agencies, multilateral organizations, local communities, the donor community and NGOs, to help implement this resolution; and should also raise public awareness.

Niger requested that the activities should be coordinated by the Interim Secretariat, while IFAD suggested a small, dynamic and versatile, but strengthened, Secretariat. Bolivia said that reports on urgent action for Africa must be more specific. The IS should compile and analyze this information and list institutions that are already working on desertification and how assistance is being channelled to Africa. CILSS requested the IS to prepare a simplified version of the Convention to facilitate public awareness.

RESOURCE MOBILIZATION: Several developed countries reported on funding structures or resources that they have established to facilitate the implementation of the resolution. France has authorized its missions to be attentive to national requests and will continue to support the OSS. In addition, the European Community will continue to fund desertification activities in Africa, especially in line with the 1989 Lom‚ IV Convention. The US said that although the budget climate in Washington is uncertain at the moment, it is still committed to providing US$500 million in current or planned projects to support the Convention and the urgent action phase. The US has instructed its embassies in Africa to support urgent action through dialogue with African governments, donors and international organizations.

Germany said that since October 1994, DM3 million has been given to support the elaboration of national action programmes, coordination and capacity building in Africa. A three-year grant of DM2 million has been given to support the development of a national action plan in Mali and DM5 million is supporting the Namibian Government"s elaboration and early implementation of the national action plan. Kenya said that in spite of financial constraints, it will provide seed money to the Interim Secretariat to assist in work related to the action programmes. Switzerland has released SFR1 million for relevant NGO activities. IFAD will assist in resource mobilization and the co-financing of programmes linked to food security.

The Executive Secretary, Arba Diallo, pointed out that the Secretariat does not want to take the place of States and organizations, but in some cases States need support and perhaps the Secretariat could step in and identify the assistance needed.

In his summary, Kjell‚n said that the discussion shows that there is an impressive amount of activity in Africa and other regions. Nevertheless, there should be no complacency since the situation in the drylands of Africa continues to be a cause for concern.

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