Friday 21st July, 2017
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GEF/SGP executed 116 projects in Nigeria-National Coordinator

GEF/SGP executed 116 projects in Nigeria-National Coordinator

In this interview, Mrs. Ibironke Olubamise, National Coordinator, Global Environment Facility/Small Grant Pro­gramme (GEF-SGP) urges members of the National Assembly to take advantage of the programme to reach out to their constituencies. She tells CHUKS OYEMA-AZIKEN that GEF/SGP is reaching out to communities across the country to support environmental initiatives that enhance their livelihood.
 
Olubamise said that GEF/SGP is supporting environmental initiatives by local communities in the country: “Emphasis is on the local communities. The idea is that the people at the grassroots are closest to the natural resources, they are first victims of environmental problems as well as they are also part of the first culprits of environmental degradation because of their unsustainable manner of exploitation of natural resources.”
She said the different components of GEF support were created to reach to all segments of the society: “We have the GEF Small Grant Programme (SGP), which is to reach out to communities because they cannot apply for the GEF full and medium size grants that come with huge money. The application for the full and medium grants is highly technical and requires high funding and it is coordinated by the Federal Government through the Federal Ministry of Environment. So the GEF-SGP serves the interests of the grassroots people. SGP is an idea by the GEF to allow local communities participate in environmental initiatives at their own level”
“If any community identifies any environmental project and need funding support, they can approach SGP”
On what has been achieved in the country, she said: “We are going to eight years in Nigeria; we have supported 116 projects in 25 states. Each project is usually in one community. We have had projects serving more than one community, so we can say up to 200 communities have benefitted from SGP. Emphasis is on remote and marginalized communities where usually development assistance will not get to. Our areas of emphasis are biodiversity, climate change, land degradation, persistent organic pollution and international waters. These are the five focal areas and we have supported more of biodiversity, climate change and land degradation”
“From GEF, SGP has given up to four million US dollars; we have also raised about $3.93million in co-financing. 90% of co-financing comes in kind because the communities also support and contribute their own quota. If communities are not ready to support in kind, like time, SGP will not support”
“It has been proven that if people have a stake in a project, the sustainability is enhanced. They will want to take ownership of the project and ensure its success”
She added that Non-Governmental Organisations, NGOs have been involved in the execution of GEF/SGP: “They come in handy to help these communities write their proposals and most of the money pass through them, and ensure the community carries out the project”
On government involvement: “For SGP to come to Nigeria it is the government that applied for it, if the government say they are not interested, nobody will bring them. That is a big support on its own. SGP is in over 125 countries and a condition for SGP coming to Nigeria is that the government requested for SGP presence”
On mode of its activities: “SGP global best practice is to advise countries to work in focal arears of the country in phase to make our work easier and impactful. If you concentrate on an area, the impact will be felt more than scattering them”
“One of the challenges we face is inability of countries to fulfill their pledge on support for monitoring and evaluation”
Olubamise avowed that alleviating problems affecting the local people has been source of joy: “Our job sees that while we attend to environmental issues, the well-being of the people is positively affected. I derive joy when we solve problems affecting people at the grassroots. An example is improving on the economic base of a farmer that was facing severe land degradation issue”
GEF/SGP is working in all parts of Nigeria, “There is no part of Nigeria that is not prone to environmental issue, which is why we are working in all parts of the country. In the North, you have desertification, in the South-East; it is erosion, in the Niger-Delta, land degradation and oil-spillage etc”
“We have helped farmers in Delta State to reclaim their land. In Bauchi State, we supported a project which used pitcher irrigation technology to regenerate degraded lands. Some community members have established orchards and a Muslim prayer ground was regenerated based on this simple technology, which has reduced temperature and creating a more conducive environment. In Edo State, through our support we helped a community, which was never connected to the national grid to gain access to renewable energy”
“The maximum amount of support from SGP is $50,000 so we restrict our self to projects of that magnitude”
She said SGP is consolidating on its programme: “We are looking into replication and up-scaling of our programme to increase accessibility and delivery to the people”
“We are proud of the transparency of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and this is an opportunity for politicians to get value for money. For the National Assembly members to get value for money, they could partner with us so that SGP can act as a delivery mechanism and support execution of the constituency projects”
She identified security as another constraints facing SGP: “We have to stop execution of projects in some areas of the country due to security challenge; we hope it will improve soon for the people there to benefit.”

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