Poor farmers and wage-workers living in semi-arid rural areas of Venezuela will benefit from a water-management project agreed upon today between the United Nations International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), which is lending $15 million and the Government of the country, which is contributing another $3 million.“The Project will support IFAD’s efforts to achieve the Millenium Development Goals of halving, by 2015, the number of people living in poverty and extreme poverty,” said Jean-Jacques Gariglio, IFAD’s Country Programme Manager for Venezuela, referring to the Goals agreed upon at the 2000 World Summit. “By supporting economic development and better management of natural resources we can help the rural poor to generate more income and improve their livelihoods,” he added.Project funds will be used for the rehabilitation and conservation of watersheds, and for training and education to provide a better understanding of the importance of existing natural resources, according to IFAD. The project will also support soil and water conservation measures, development of a sustainable water supply for drinking and agricultural production as well as a more efficient use of semi-arid rangelands for goat-raising. In addition, the project will assist small entrepreneurs, rural youth and groups of small farmers through training and capacity-building to better enable them to negotiate their demands within state, municipal, and local development programmes.Approximately 50,000 rural households in the Falcon and Lara states will benefit from the new project, which will have a total of $23 million in funds available, augmented by an additional $4 million from the Andean Development Corporation (CAF) as well as $1 million from beneficiaries. With its loan, IFAD will have financed five projects in Venezuela for a total of US$67 million.