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Nigeria, four others get $18mn biodiversity, water security projects funding

78 million children in Nigeria at high risk of water-related diseases, others — UNICEF

In a bid to protect biodiversity in lowland forests, and build water security and resilience, the Global Environment Facility (GEF) has approved $18 million funding for Nigeria and four other countries.

The three new projects – in Nigeria, Venezuela and a regional initiative encompassing Malawi, Mozambique, and Uganda – will also improve the management of protected areas.

The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) welcomed the decision of GEF to approve the three FAO-led projects in these countries.

Maria Helena Semedo, Deputy Director-General, FAO, said: “Resilient and productive land and aquatic ecosystems are the foundation of sustainable agri-food systems transformation.

“The approval of these three projects strengthens our ability to help countries move on a path of sustainability that leaves no one behind.”

According to FAO, the project in Nigeria will improve the conservation, sustainable use, and restoration of a lowland forest landscape to protect globally significant biodiversity and strengthen the sustainable livelihoods of local communities.

“The project will improve the management of a heavily threatened, 1-million-hectare landscape encompassing 12 forest reserves and the Okomu national park.

“One of the aims is to replicate successes across the full Nigerian lowland forests eco-region.”

While the regional project across Malawi, Mozambique, and Uganda will bring the sustainable management of groundwater to the forefront of water security for resilient livelihoods, ecosystems, and investments in Africa.

“It supports the African Ministers’ Council on Water through their Pan-African Groundwater Program.”

FAO further indicate that the biodiversity conservation project in Venezuela will address key barriers to the sustainable use of biodiversity in order to support the effective management of five existing Protected Areas in the Caroni River Basin in the Guiana Massif, one of the most pristine and biodiverse areas on the planet.

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The three projects was approved on Tuesday, June 21, 2022, at the 62nd Council Meeting of the GEF, held in McLean, Virginia, United States of America.

These projects aim to improve management for conservation and the sustainable use of over 8.3 million hectares of protected areas, bring 10 000 hectares of land under improved management, and restore another 24 000 hectares of forest and natural grasslands.

They will also mitigate 4.3 million tons of greenhouse gas emissions, and directly support nearly 92 000 people, including indigenous peoples and local communities.

On the other side, the approval of these three projects marks the end of the GEF’s 2018-2022 funding cycle, the most productive four-year period in the FAO-GEF partnership to date, with over $600 million in grant financing secured for member countries.

These grants support 96 countries in tackling the most pressing issues at the intersection of agrifood systems and the environment.

According to FAO, the past four years of investments from the FAO-GEF partnership will support member countries to improve the management of 150 million hectares of landscapes and seascapes, restore nearly 4 million hectares of land, and change over 2 million tons of overly exploited fisheries to sustainable levels.

“The investments will also mitigate over 570 million tons of greenhouse gas emissions,” it claimed. “More than 13 million women, men and children will directly benefit from the investments.”

The GEF is a partnership of 18 agencies, including FAO, and 184 countries that addresses the world’s most challenging environmental issues related to biodiversity, climate change, land degradation, chemicals, and international waters.

It provides grants to countries to meet these challenges while contributing to key development goals, such as food security.