Press Release

Empowering Women: Norway and FAO Join Forces to support rural women affected by climatic changes in Iraq

04 December 2023

Baghdad, 4 December 2023 - The Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, represented by the Norwegian Embassy in Iraq, and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) are set to launch an innovative project entitled "Integration of Climate-Smart Practices for Improved Livestock-based Rural Livelihoods of Vulnerable Farmers in Iraq."

This ambitious three-year initiative, supported by generous funding of 15,000,000 NOK, aims to transform the livelihoods of vulnerable rural households in the governorates of Basrah, Thi-Qar, and Karbala.

This project will focus on the economic empowerment of rural communities, particularly women; the long-term objective is to enhance resilience and improve food security of vulnerable rural communities in target areas, which will be achieved by enhancing climate resilience and improved productivity through climate-smart agricultural practices.

FAO Iraq Representative, Dr. Salah El Hajj Hassan, highlighted the value of cooperation with Norway and expressed gratitude for their generous funding. He stated, "This partnership is an example of the transformative potential of international collaboration. We are proud to work alongside Norway Government and local partners to empower vulnerable communities and enhance sustainable agriculture in Iraq."

Norwegian Ambassador to Jordan and Iraq, Mr Espen Lindbæck said: “We are incredibly proud to join forces with FAO in empowering vulnerable communities in Iraq through sustainable and climate-smart activities. Climate change in Iraq does not only affect the agricultural sector, but also creates barriers to development, threatens human rights and creates insecurity in plethora of sectors. I believe this project will give hope to the most vulnerable communities that often disproportionately suffer from the impact of climate change. Food security, gender equality and climate action are at the top of the Norwegian agenda, and I think this collaboration shows how countries can work together to make a positive impact for all.

"Dr Mithaq Al-Khafaji, Technical Assistant at the Ministry of Agriculture, expressed his appreciation: "This project is of the utmost importance in Iraq. It represents a vital collaboration with FAO and Norway, providing critical funding for a project that will have a profound impact on the agricultural sector. We are grateful for their support and look forward to making a significant difference in our communities.

The Director General of the Department for Iraqi Women’s Empowerment at the Council of Ministers, Ms. Yusra Karim Mohsen, stressed the importance of such projects in supporting and empowering rural women, thanking the organization and its partners for their commitment to advancing the situation of women in rural areas and ensuring that they enjoy equal opportunities, which strengthens their role in their communities.

The project is aligned with Iraq's national priorities and contributes to key sectors and Sustainable Development Goals, including zero hunger, gender equality, decent work, climate action and rural livelihoods. It also supports Norway's development cooperation themes and the UN framework for sustainable development cooperation, with a focus on climate change, food security and gender equality.


Khawla Ben Aicha

Communications Specialist
Salah Elhajjhassan

Salah Elhajjhassan

Mr Hajj Hassan, a national of Lebanon, holds a Ph.D. in Plant Production from the University of Agriculture, Damascus, Syria; a Master of Science degree in Plant Production and a Bachelor of Science degree in Agricultural Engineering, both from the American University of Beirut, Lebanon.
He started his career in 1984, as Senior Research Assistant in the Agricultural Research and Education Centre (AREC), American University of Beirut. From 1987 to 1991, he was Coordinator of the Student Training Programme, and also Agriculture and Horticultural Teacher for the Faculty of Agriculture, at the Lebanese University.
From 1991 to 1995, he worked as Agricultural Engineer at the Ministry of Agriculture, Bekaa Regional Office, Zahlah and was then assigned to the Agricultural Research Institute in the Tal Amara station, first as Head of the Crop Production Department and subsequently in charge of the Plant Protection Laboratory. From 2002 to 2006, he was Director of the Kfardane Research Station (Agricultural Research Institute). In 2008, he became Visiting Scientist at the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Centre (CIMMYT) and Coordinator of a project with the International Centre for Atomic Energy Agency, Vienna.
In 2010, he served as Advisor to the Minister for Agriculture of Lebanon. In 2011, he became President of the Pesticide Scientific Committee, Head of the Phytoplasma Committee and Director of the Agriculture and Rural Development Programme (ARDP) (EU-funded project). From 2010 to 2013, he represented Lebanon in negotiations with EU, Egypt, Jordan and Iraq. During his career, Mr Hajj Hassan also carried out a number of other functions. He represented the Lebanese Agricultural Research Institute (LARI) in several research programmes with the International Centre for Agricultural Research in the Dry Areas (ICARDA) and the American University of Beirut. He was Coordinator of the Mashreq/Maghreb project with ICARDA, representing Lebanon in the Steering Committee, as well as being the Head of the Sugar-beet Delivery and of the Wheat Delivery Committees. For a number of years, Mr Hajj Hassan worked for the preparation of FAO TCP projects and served as the National Director of a TCP project. He joined FAO in January 2014 as FAO Representative in Yemen. Mr Hajj Hassan succeeds Mr El Zubi as FAO Representative in Iraq.

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