GEF-SGP spends $3.6 million on Nigerian communities

Sep 24, 2013

A farmer supported by GEF sharing a story of improved changes in her groundnut farm to GEF representatives. Photo:UNDP Nigeria

The Global Environment Facility (GEF) says it has spent more than 3.6 million dollars to support 88 community environmental initiatives in twenty-three states in Nigeria. This is part of the organisation's projects under its Small Grants Programme in member developing countries across the world.

In an interview with Voice of Nigeria, the National Co-ordinator of the Facility's Small Grants Programme in Nigeria, Mrs Ronke Olubamise, said that the body partners with Non-Governmental Organisations and Community Based Organisations to support environmental projects that would enhance livelihood in rural areas.

“The GEF Small Grant Programme is one of the largest funding mechanisms of environmental initiatives for civil society organizations at the community level. “It is implemented by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and they are all centred on environmental initiatives that cut across climate change, Biodiversity, Land degradation, international waters and persistent organic pollutants. “The majority of the projects are in the area of Climate Change and Biodiversity followed by Land degradation,” she said.

The Programme has supported over forty Climate Change mitigation projects in Nigeria through awareness campaigns and teaching simple techniques such as rain water harvesting to reduce stress of water and impact of drought and Pitcher Irrigation technology to reduce stress of regular irrigation of farmland. It has also taught tree planting to regenerate forests, which acts as sink for CO2, and provision of fuel efficient stoves to reduce consumption of fuel-wood. According to Olubamise, more than five hundred indigenous plant species are currently being conserved, while Community Forest Management Committees have been established. “The process of having access to the grants under the “Full and Medium Sizes” of the facility is tedious and very elaborate whereby not any community organisation can access the funds because of the process. “So the idea behind GEF’s creation of the Small Grants Programme is to enable local communities, especially the poor and marginalized communities are also able to access the fund so as to engage in environmental initiatives that would also have positive impact on their livelihoods.

“These poor and marginalized communities are the ones closest to the natural resources; they exploit the resources and are also the first victims of the problems of the environment”. 
 “Many of the locals attested to the fact that they were aware that many of the forest herbal plants were going into extinction but that they did not know what to do, hence the establishment of orchards, conservatories and plant herbariums where these plants could be conserved in their dry forms for restoration. “The idea of conservation is to promote sustainability. Lack of knowledge by the locals lead them to cut down trees during harvest. So we teach them that the trees can continue to stand if fruits or resources are harvested in a sustainable manner so that they can continue to have access to the resources in them to enhance their livelihood”.  

She added that some of the projects have established by-laws that help to protect the environment and enforce environmental conservation principles through traditional arrangements. “Lagos state for instance has adopted the results of the “Saw Dust” project leading to the establishment of a comprehensive environmental management system for saw mills in the state.” The Global Environment Facility (GEF) is an independent financial organisation that unites one hundred and eighty-three countries, in partnership with international institutions, Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) and the private sector to address global environmental issues.

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