UNDP/GEF Danube Regional Project

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In the Danube River Basin, farmers were recently charged as a main water polluter. Is that fair?</i>  
In the Danube River Basin, farmers were recently charged as a main water polluter. Is that fair?</i>  
... read full background story on Agriculture at the DRP web site [.... Danube Farmers are friends, not foes.....]
... read full background story on Agriculture .... Danube Farmers are friends, not foes..... and more information at DRP web site [http://www.undp-drp.org/drp/en/themes_agriculture.html]

Revision as of 07:26, 22 August 2006


Title, Short Description, Identifiers


UNDP/GEF Danube Regional Project: Strengthening the Implementation Capacities for Nutrients Reduction and Transboundary Cooperation in the Danube River Basin

Subproject: Reduction of Pollution Releases through Agricultural Policy change and Demonstrations by Pilot Projects

Synopsis / Summary

One of the largest project components of the Danube Regional Project focuses on assisting the DRB countries in designing new agricultural point and non-point source pollution control policies and legislation towards sustainable land use and agricultural practices ("sustainable agriculture"), as well as compliance and enforcement plans in line with the existing and emerging (driven by EU accession process) national legislation.

Within the Phase 1 activities, the agricultural policies and their enforcement in DRB countries was analysed and an inventory of pesticide and fertilizers was prepared and use assessed. The existing situation in policy development and implementation of Best Agricultural Practice (BAP) in Danube countries was reviewed and analysed, and a concept for introduction of BAP was developed. Guidelines for manure handling were developed in national languages.

In Phase 2 of the Project policy and legal recommendations are being developed for DRB governments to reinforce the introduction of BAP and to optimize the use of agrochemicals.

The main focus of this assistance is to identify for each DRB country the main administrative, institutional and funding deficiencies and to develop priority reform measures for policies which are expected to best support the integration of environmental concerns into farm management (BAP), including improvements in the handling of manure and sludge from livestock operations, minimization of the use of chemical fertilizers and pesticides, promotion of improved tillage methods, management of restored wetlands, creation of buffer zones and farmer education and outreach activities.

Location of Experience

The beneficary countries of the Danube Regional Project are Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary, Slovenia, Croatia, Bosnia & Herzegovina, Serbia and Montenegro, Bulgaria, Romania, Moldova and Ukraine. Participating countries are Germany and Austria.</p>

The project covers the whole Danube River Basin and the project component on Agriculture is primarily focused on the downstream Danube Countries.<p>

UNDP's / Partner's Role

Cooperation at regional level among the Danube stakeholders involved in activities to improve water quality is a key of success for protection and sustainable use of the Danube River and its resources.

The Danube Regional Project (DRP) is closely working with the International Commission for the Protection of the Danube River (ICPDR), which is the project's main "client", besides the Danube and its People. The ICPDR is an international organisation consisting of 13 cooperating states and European Union, implementing the Danube River Protection Convention.

The World Bank Investment Fund and the Black Sea Ecosystems Recovery Project (BSERP) are the family members of the GEF Danube / Black Sea Strategic Partnership, where also the Danube Regional Project belongs. All together, they are addressing transboundary environmental degradation in the Danube/Black Sea basin, the DRP and the BSERP through policy and legal reform, public awareness raising, and institutional strengthening and World Bank Investment Fund through funding investments in nutrient reduction as part of domestic and industrial wastewater treatment, agricultural pollution control and wetland restoration projects in individual countries.

The first phase of the Agriculture project component was implemented by German company GFA Terra. The activities of the second phase are now carried out by Carl Bro and Danish Agricultural Advisory Service in cooperation with a Partner in each of the 7 lower Danube Countries.

Timeframe & Status

The recent Danube Regional Project was launched in December 2001, is planned for period of 5 years and is implemented in two phases. The activities on Agriculture will be finalized in January 2007.


Peter Whalley

Environmental Specialist

UNDP / GEF Danube Regional Project

Tel: +43-1-26060-4023

Fax: +43-1-26060-5837



The Problem (Need for Action)

In this chapter, describe the Issue(s)/Problem(s) tackled by the project/intervention
Was there a problem that required this project/intervention?
What was/is the need to act?

-> start your entry after the next sub-heading "Background"


Re-write the usual "Background" so as to answer the question
What was the issue to be solved?
What was wrong/didn’t function/need fixing?
Why was there a need to act?
Best if written from the perspective of an individual, family or group/community. Interviews w/locals give a nice touch early on, if indeed they can set the problem succinctly and clearly (which they usually do, in simple, moving and powerful every-day language...)

START YOUR ENTRY HERE (insert Sub-Titles, as needed -> See Help if necessary)

Ever talk to people whose work involved killing animals? People in a slaughterhouse or in shops selling meat or fish? The butcher sawing the slab of beef, blood on his apron, said to me: “City people look down on folks like me but I do their dirty work.”

He was right. Many urban consumers love picking out fresh-cut steaks packaged in colourful wrapping (with singing cows illustrated on the package?) in clean supermarkets. They might even visit a farm and get their feet dirty. But they won’t kill the cow. They’re consumers, not producers. That’s the farmer’s thankless job. Farmers actually do hundreds of jobs most of us would rather avoid. Some of us even call farmers enemies of the environment – from animal killers to soil spoilers to flood promoters. Take irrigation for example -- it’s been known to spoil the soil with too much salt, or to affect drinking water sources if too much water is taken out. Farmers have also been blamed for replacing floodplains that protect villages from floods with unproductive artificial wheat or corn fields.

In the Danube River Basin, farmers were recently charged as a main water polluter. Is that fair? ... read full background story on Agriculture .... Danube Farmers are friends, not foes..... and more information at DRP web site [1]

TOXIC GROWTH Hundreds of toxic chemicals are released into DRB waters with serious threats to the environment. And many toxins come from agriculture. This news was recently reported in the ‘Danube River Basin Analysis’, the first ever comprehensive analysis of the Danube environment and pressures impacting it. The Analysis was coordinated by the International Commission for the Protection of the Danube River (ICPDR), the body mandated with implementing the Danube River Protection Convention.

Farmers need agro-chemicals such as pesticides and fertilizers to sustain yields and produce good quality crops”, says Dirk Ahner, Deputy Director General for the European Commission’s (EC) Directorate General for Agriculture and Rural Development. “Yet the excessive or inappropriate use of these substances can contribute to water pollution through the leaching or run-off of nutrients and pesticides, and through the emission of contaminants from agricultural by-products and waste.” ‘Pesticides’ generally refer to insecticides, herbicides and fungicides. These substances are usually diluted with water and then sprayed on soil or crops. The equipment used for spraying has generally improved allowing for better control. But farmers still decide when and where the spraying happens, and how much, and they don’t always do it right. Too much spraying can lead to high soil toxicity, the death of important soil organisms or contaminated drinking water. Another problem is with the disposal of unused spray material and the washing of used equipment, often near or directly into water bodies. In DRB waters, pesticides generally increase downstream. “Alarming concentrations” can be found in the lower Danube and in some tributaries, says the Danube Analysis. The DRB is home to 29 of the EU’s list of 33 ‘hazardous priority substances’, eleven of which are agricultural pesticides. Many are used in producing cereals, rapeseed, sunflower, maize, orchard fruits and grapes. Only three are authorized in all countries. A shocking seven are not authorized in any country, many having been left in old stockpiles, some in flood-prone areas. A big threat is from ‘DDT’, a pesticide banned in Europe known to reduce the ability of both birds and fish to reproduce -- in Danube samples taken, 71% exceeded permissible levels. Another is the herbicide‘atrazine’ which was banned in the EU from 2006 because of its damaging impacts on the environment.

NON-NUTRITIOUS NUTRIENTS Few are aware of nutrient pollution from agriculture to the water -- for example, from nitrogen. Nitrogen is the most important mineral nutrient for plants, playing a crucial role in plant growth and photosynthesis. In soluble form, nitrogen becomes ‘nitrate’ -- easily leached from soil into water. And too much of it means pollution. One main source is the inappropriate or over-use of nitrogen fertilizers for crops like wheat. Many farmers apply them at the wrong time of year or in the wrong areas – for example, on frozen areas, on slopes or close to surface waters. That means nitrogen is more prone to enter the water. Some farmers don’t consider the crops being fertilized – after a certain amount, further benefits from fertilizers stop and even reverse. Some fertilizers never even reach the crops they’re targeted for.

Another nutrient source is the over-production and poor handling of solid manure and liquid waste from raising livestock. Manure can be a good natural fertilizer for crops. But the usable amount is limited by the area of cropland available. One pig and its piglets, for example, make one truckload of manure annually. That would need 1.2 ha of fields for spreading, which means 60,000 ha are needed for a mid-sized farm of 50,000 pigs. That kind of space is rarely available. So, on many farms, nearly half of all livestock waste becomes pollution. Some farmers try to store it properly. Others pile it on the grass. Others just dump it into streams. In any case, a lot eventually gets into the water, especially in times of heavy rains and floods - and lower Danube countries have had their share of major flooding lately.

Another concern is that manure should only be spread at certain times of the year. But since storing facilities are usually inadequate, spreading happens all year. This includes winter when it is not necessary, and when the loss of nitrates is highest. The result is that, for decades, too much nitrogen from agriculture has been getting into DRB waters. The same is true for too much coming from poorly treated or untreated wastewater from industry and from municipalities. All combined, the excesses meant that nitrogen use doubled from the 1950s to the mid-1980s. Nitrogen levels are still too high. Agriculture is now the biggest source of nitrogen in the DRB with a 39% share. Farming is also the second biggest source for phosphorus emissions in the DRB with a 32% share. Phosphorus, like nitrogen, is an essential nutrient for plant growth and maturity. But again, if too much is added through fertilizers, water pollution can result. The biggest impact from nutrient pollution is ‘eutrophication’ which reduces oxygen in the water, decreases plant and animal species and worsens water quality. Danube nutrient pollution has helped create a severe ecological imbalance in the Black Sea – in fact, most of the world’s major coastal ecosystems are now seriously affected by eutrophication, from China to the Gulf of Mexico. Nutrients are actually one of the world’s biggest pollution problems, notes the World Watch Institute, blamed in part for species loss, acid rain and even climate change. And nitrates in drinking water have been linked to infant poisoning. The Danube Analysis also found groundwater in the DRB at high risk of pollution from agricultural fertilizers and chemicals. That’s a big problem because groundwater is the source of 95% of the public water supply in some Danube countries. Many people get water from their own private wells – as high as 43% in some countries. Overall, 48 million people in the DRB depend on groundwater sources for drinking water.

Summarising: Environmental problems caused by agricultural activities

The environment can be divided in water, soil, air and noise. Due to the relation of the BAP to the Danube River Basin we are here alone considering the water environment.

The water quality is especially influenced from agricultural activities by the load of nitrogen, phosphorus, and plant protection products:

  • Residues of plant protection products have different hazardous effects, and can for instance cause disturbed human fertility.
  • Nitrogen (or more precisely nitrate) cause for instance algae bloom in the marine waters, and "blue babies" (methemoglobinaemia).
  • Phosphorus discharges causes eutrophication of especially fresh waters as rivers, lakes and streams. The euthrophication is accompanied by unpleasant nuisances and is endangering health of human and animal as some of the algae and phytoplankton produces highly toxic substancesiv.

Agriculture is not the only source of pollution, but the agricultural sector is typically on of the largest polluters. However, the management of the individual farm is directly influencing the level of the pollution from its activities.

Goal and Objectives

Goal or purpose of the project/intervention
For example: secure access to water by the poor? Water governance in irrigation? Private sector participation? National policy on water governance (revision of laws, localizing water governance, etc…)? Resolve conflicts? save water resources? etc..

START YOUR ENTRY HERE (insert Sub-Titles, as needed -> See Help if necessary)

The overall objective of this project “Reduction of Pollution Releases through Agricultural Policy Change and Demonstrations by Pilot Projects” is the reduction of pollution from agriculture. This is to be achieved by further developing the process of agriculture policy reform and by implementing pilot projects. There are three key specific objectives:

  • Analyses of Agriculture and related Policies
  • Pilot project about Best Agriculture Practice (BAP)
  • Training of trainers from Lower Danube River Basin countries in BAP

The Pilot project assists the DRB countries (especially in the lower Danube basin) with the development of pilot programmes for agricultural pollution reduction and low-input agriculture, in line with existing and emerging (driven by EU Accession) national environmental legislation. These Pilot projects reflect the concepts developed with the Agriculture Policy objective in a pilot project (Pilot policy and legal recommendations).

It helps to introduce new relationships among national governments, local governments, agricultural community ( including agriculture extension services) and general public (different land users and society in general) in order to improve management practices in agriculture and to reduce nutrient loads. Specific needs to improve agricultural practices and relevant sites for demonstration activities on manure handling are in a process of identification in practical concepts for each DRB country. Focus countries for pilot projects (training and institutional development of best agriculture practice) is on Ukraine, Moldova, Romania, Bulgaria, Serbia and Montenegro, Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Activities such as establishment of Pilot project Office in Belgrade, Serbia and Montenegro, identification of Local partner organizations and Local experts in the 7 countries of the Lower Danube Basin and identification of pilot project demonstration farms in Serbia and Montenegro have been finalized. All beneficiary groups and stakeholders have been contacted and delivered with information about the project such as governmental institutions, extension services, agriculture enterprises, farmers and media on local, regional and national level.

The Solution (Description of Action Taken)

In this section, describe how the project/intervention answered the need set in the preivous chapter ("The Problem"). Explain the "path" that led to the results.
Cover all points below, like in a press story (what, who, where, when, how?)

-> start your entry after the next sub-heading "WHAT"


Write about what specific solution was used to tackle the Problem described above


  1. The setting (same as "Context"): the different institutional, legislative, social, economic and technical dimensions;
  2. Description of the solution: What approach was chosen? Main outcomes? What was the intended change? What change has eventually been achieved?
  3. Innovation: What is special about this solution/intervention? What makes it different from other approaches?

START YOUR ENTRY HERE (insert Sub-Titles, as needed -> See Help if necessary) The project considers the handling of manure as a central issue in Best Agricultural Practice (BAP) implementation in the lower Danube countries. Introduction of BAP have positive effects on the environment as well as on the farm production economy. Within the project The 'BAP' was defined as “…the highest level of pollution control practice that any farmer can reasonably be expected to adopt when working within their own national, regional and/or local context in the Danube River Basin."

The project has defined 15 BAP's, which in combination has a big positive effect on the farm production economy and in the same time would save the environment for a big load of nitrogen (N), phosphorus (P) and plant protection products (PPP), and therefore should be able to spread itself as good practices. One of the BAP practices require relatively big investments on the farms (manure stores), while another require availability of machine rings or similar services for spreading of livestock manure with optimal technology. The rest of the practices are cheap and can be implemented by all farms without consideration to their economy.

The defined 15 BAP's does not attempt to be exhaustive, but rather to be some basic BAP's that are relevant for all 7 project concerned countries. They are related to Resource economy, Crop production systems, Livestock production systems, Livestock density and Livestock manure management.

Implementation of BAPs - DRP provided trainings, media activites & public awareness raising, pilot projects....


Describe the main stakeholders
Who is implementing?
Who are the stakeholders?
What is the involvement of UNDP, if any?
And who were the project’s direct beneficiaries?

START YOUR ENTRY HERE (insert Sub-Titles, as needed -> See Help if necessary) Carl Bro The activities of the project are targeted on farm managers and their advisers.


Show the geographic and socio-economic context
What is the location of the experience?
Any important contextual details: in the countryside, in the city, in a protected area, coastal zone, wetland?
Who lives in this area? What socio-economic / ethnic factors are important?
What are the active groups (farmers, user groups, women…)?

START YOUR ENTRY HERE (insert Sub-Titles, as needed -> See Help if necessary)


Mention the duration and time-related aspects
When was the project implemented?
What's the status/progress of the project/intervention?
Was the duration appropriate, too long, needed for such a project to evolve?
Does/did time-related factors have any specific influence/impact on the experience?

START YOUR ENTRY HERE (insert Sub-Titles, as needed -> See Help if necessary)


Describe step by step how the project/intervention was set up/implemented

Try to address the following points:

  1. Specify the steps taken/necessary (if possible/relevant starting in reverse chronological order — the last activity first and then moving back to the initial first steps)
  2. Make sure to keep in mind the initial Issue/Problem and tie whatever activity to how well it responds to and/or solves the problem identified in the previous chapter
  3. Focus on the five Main themes of the HDR 2006 to show the linkages between field-based activities and analysis/policy
  4. Stress on innovation versus traditional approaches: Has traditional knowledge/patterns been applied/supported? How did they contribute to advancing the project/intervention? What sort of innovative steps were adopted instead? How well was this all received by beneficiaries; or was there resistance to change?
  5. Cooperation between the partners / stakeholders: How did it work?
  6. External factors/challenges: What influences from outside had an impact on the project/intervention? Were there any specific challenges to overcome?
  7. Finally: What did it cost? What was the Source of Funding: UNDP, donors, government, others?

START YOUR ENTRY HERE (insert Sub-Titles, as needed -> See Help if necessary)

Project tasks

Task 1: Analysis of Current Legislation and Enforcement

  • Review of the current situation and recommendations on the application of BAP in the basin elaborated

Task 2: Review of Agrochemical Inventories

  • Review of inventories on agrochemicals and recommendations for the appropriate use of these agrochemicals elaborated

Task 3: Best Agricultural Practice

  • Concepts for the application of Best Agricultural Practices (BAP) in all DRB countries elaborated

Task 4: Dissemination of new Agricultural Pollution Reduction Concepts

  • A workshop organised.
  • A farm demonstration organised in the pilot catchment.
  • An information with construction examples for storage of animal manure and minimising use of agro-chemicals elaborated, and translated to the languages of the lower Danube Countries

Task 5: Preparing detailed work programme for Pilot Project

  • Work programme established
  • Criteria for selecting catchment established.
  • Practical recommendations for BAP targeting agriculture in the selected catchment established.
  • Programme for water control established.
  • Programme for field trials established.

Task 6: Implementing Agreed Pilot Project

  • Calculated resource economy every year, latest 1 April for the preceding year, and covering N, P and PPP
  • Soil sampling at least each 5 years
  • Crop rotation and fertilising plans
  • Livestock should be fed with rations that are correct balanced
  • Cleaning of stables with water should be reduced to a minimum
  • Watering of the livestock without spill of water
  • Livestock density max. corresponding to a nitrogen content in the manure of 170 kg N per ha.
  • Storage capacity for at least 6 months production of livestock manure at the farm
  • It must be hindered that rain water can dilute the livestock manure
  • Spreading of manure in the period from 15 October till 1 March should not take place
  • Proper technology should be used for spreading of livestock manure
  • Livestock manure should be incorporated into the soil within 6 hours
  • PPP spaying should be done according to the needs
  • The spraying equipment should function properly
  • Plant Protection Products shall be kept in a locked store

Task 7: Pilot Project Training and Demonstration Workshops

  • Trainers trained from all 7 DRB countries
  • Training and Dissemination Workshops on Pilot Project results organised by the partners in all 7 DRB countries.
  • Dissemination of BAT and Pilot project experiences to a wider range of experts, advisers, as well as national authorities by the projects Internet site, workshops, meetings, medias, and publications.

The Analysis (Results and Lessons Learned)

In this section, make sure you describe the main results and how/why the "Solution" described in the previous chapter has solved the problems/issues/challenges.
What has been achieved? What are the changes?
What went as planned, what not?
Any insights / lessons learned for future activities?
Also focus on unintended consequences: Surprises, new challenges or new opportunities. Explain why the "path" had led to the results.

-> start your entry after the next sub-heading "Main Results"

Main Results

Describe the main outcomes
What concrete achievements have been made?
What is different / what has changed for the beneficiaries?

For example, detailing the main outcomes and their impact in terms of changes/contribution made towards:

  1. Management and access;
  2. public-private partnerships;
  3. water production and environment; or
  4. sanitation & security

T O P I C S - N E E D - T O - B E - D I S C U S S E D - S T I L L  !!!

START YOUR ENTRY HERE (insert Sub-Titles, as needed -> See Help if necessary)

Lessons Learned & Replication

To-the-point analysis on WHY the results have (or have not) been achieved
  1. Highlight key elements that were helpful / hindering in the process
  2. Stress on facilitating factors as well as challenges/barriers that contributed to success/failure of parts of the intervention/project.
Why was this a success? Why have certain results not been achieved?
What specifically do you think has triggered certain developments?
Had changes been made to the original plans? Why?
What is the difference compared to other, similar experiences?
  1. Try to identify patterns behind the process or outcome, or important lessons, that would be useful for others planning a similar intervention/project
Would you do everything the same way again? Why? What would you change?
What are key recommendations for similar endeavours? How would you go about to replicate thsi project/experience?

START YOUR ENTRY HERE (insert Sub-Titles, as needed -> See Help if necessary)

Testimonies, Opinions, Validation (Reality Check)

"Voices from the field"
For instance, document excerpts from interviews with beneficiaries or other stakeholders to reflect the impact of the intervention and/or the actual or perceived results through a "field lense".
Questions for interviews could inculde
How would you describe the project / the results?
Which problems have been solved? What remains to be done?
Did you learn anything throug/during/becaus of this intervention? Any major insights?
Did everything go as you expected? Were there surprises? Unexpected developments?
What has changed compared to the initial problem/situation?

-> This should also be done with an eye to the possibility of future video interviews, or a depiction of the quotations in a multi-media format.

START YOUR ENTRY HERE (insert Sub-Titles, as needed -> See Help if necessary)

Outlook (Conclusions and Next Steps)

In this last sub-section, give a short outlook about what else is expected in this project/intervention
Have the results and processes been institutionalized? How?
What has been / will be done to ensure that they are sustained beyond the timeframe of the project/intervention?
What further interventions would be necessary to tackle remaining/new issues?

START YOUR ENTRY HERE (insert Sub-Titles, as needed -> See Help if necessary)

References, Sources, and Further Information

Interviewees and Key Contacts

List names and addresses (e-mail, postal) of all people interviewed or resource persons cited
Also indicate who could give further information

START YOUR ENTRY HERE (insert Sub-Titles, as needed -> See Help if necessary)

Sorce Documents, References, Cross-Links, and Further Readings

1. Indicate all sources of information used

Apply bibliographic citation
Provide URLs for online documents or note address where printed documents are held

2. Create links to similar projects and/or useful information on WaterWiki or external webpages

-> Consult the Help-pages to find out how to insert internal/external links, upload documents to this site, etc.

START YOUR ENTRY HERE (insert Sub-Titles, as needed -> See Help if necessary)

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