Nigeria has received 3.6 million dollars in four years from the Global Environment Facility (GEF), under its Small Grants Programme to implement 113 environmental projects in the country, a Coordinator, has said.
The GEF is the largest funder of environmental initiatives in the world, adding that it provides grants for projects related to biodiversity and climate change.
Other focal areas of the project are international waters, land degradation, the ozone layer, and persistent organic pollutants.
The National Coordinator of the GEF Small grants Programme (SGP), Mrs Ibironke Olubamise, said on Tuesday that the GEF-SGP had approved a total of 113 projects in 25 states, in the last four years of operation in Nigeria, noting that about 40 projects were already completed.
According to her, sustainability is in-built in the project to ensure that the beneficiary communities are able to continue with the project long after the end of the grant, and do not go back to old ways of living, detrimental to the envrionment.
”We don’t really leave them out when they are completed; we try as much as possible to build sustainability into these projects.
”So that 10 years after or more, somebody will go to that community and see the project still benefiting the people,” she said.
Olubamise stated that SGP was implemented by UNDP on behalf of the GEF partnerships, and executed by the United Nations Office for Projects Services (UNOPS).
She said that the NGOs sign MoU with the UNDP for all approved projects as the NG0s submit their progress reports.
The coordinator, however, said that the country had a lot of success stories to tell through the projects, noting that it had recorded positive change of attitude toward the environment from people.
”We have seen communities develop bye-laws, we have had alternative skill acquisition provided for people which reduces their unsustainable exploitation of natural resources thereby enhancing forest conservation.
”Capacity building – like the one we have in Lagos, they taught the women how to mould energy saving stove themselves.
”In Gombe, a woman testified that she saved 80 per cent of the firewood she was using before after we taught them how to build energy saving stove.”
In addition, she said that SGP had also supported some communities in Edo to provide structures for them to collect and treat rain water to ensure availability of water during dry season.
This effort, according to her, has helped to reduce the hardship from water scarcity in those communities thereby mitigating the impact of climate change.
She, however, noted that the major challenge of the project was capacity building for NGOs to understand environmental issues and write good proposals for the projects.
GEF-SGP is the flagship of GEF projects.
The maximum grant amount per project is 50,000 dollars, but average around 20,000 dollars to the beneficiaries and the grants are channelled directly to Community–Based Orgnisation (CBOs) and NGOs.
The principle of SGP is rooted in the belief that global environmental problems can be best addressed if local people are involved and there are direct community benefits and ownership.
The grants are directly given to poor and marginalised communities, through their own CBOs or assisted by local or national NGOs.