Green & Digital: Empowering Farmers (including women) in Iran's Lake Urmia Basin

The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) supports countries in future-proofing their development efforts through digitalization. This includes harnessing digital power to sustainably adapt to climate change and restore our natural environment. Moreover, it spearheads the UN’s wide-ranging global efforts to boost the digital capacity of vulnerable and marginalized groups, including women and people with disabilities. In recent years, conservation of Iranian wetlands and, more specifically, the restoration of Lake Urmia, have been flagship interventions of UNDP in Iran. In 2021, in response to the need to assist local communities affected by the pandemic and climate change, UNDP Iran mobilized its resources to enhance the livelihoods of communities living around the Lake Urmia basin, home to nearly 5 million people. To achieve this, UNDP partnered with Digikala, one of the major e-commerce platforms in the country. The "Green & Digital" initiative was launched as a pilot project to promote the diversification of livelihoods, aiming to create sustainable green jobs and reduce pressure on water resources. UNDP Iran and Digikala collaborated to improve the livelihoods of residents in the Urmia Lake Basin by diversifying their home-based and green businesses. They facilitated this by helping producers and farmers connect to digital selling platforms. The achievements of this project include: Launching 11 e-commerce support centers (Mini-Hubs) in the cities of Urmia, Naqadeh, Mahabad, Miandoab, Azarshahr, Bonab, Malekan, Bostan Abad, and Gharagozlou village in the provinces of West Azerbaijan and East Azerbaijan. Providing training for individuals to work with Mini-Hubs (two days in person and two months of continuous virtual training and support). Familiarizing Mini-Hub managers with 10 selling platforms and gaining collaboration experience with six platforms. Onboarding over 100 farmers and producers to Digikala, the largest e-commerce platform (80 via Mini-Hubs), and introducing 25 producers to five other platforms for potential cooperation. Uploading and offering more than 200 products from producers and farmers around the lake. Supporting a platform already active in the area to enhance sales (running a social campaign with Dastadast). Holding a sales festival with over 10,000 views of goods. Generating 6.4 million Tomans through two platforms (Digikala and Aranik).

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