The Global Environment Facility Small Grants Programme (GEF-SGP), an international program of the United Nation’s Development Programme (UNDP) recently inaugurated new members for its Nigeria’s National Steering Committee. It also utilised the occasion to appreciate its old and outgoing committee members and outlined its plans we well enumerates its achievements.

 

The meeting also included a press conference where the GEF-SGP explained the strategic focus of the programme during its currently running Operational Phase 6 and the on-going Knowledge Fair Project.

Pa Lamin Beyai, UNDP’s country representative, lauded the work of the GEF-SGP in Nigeria and promised the support of the United Nation’s agency in its mission to entrench sustainable environment by working with local partners on themes varying from biodiversity, climate change to renewable energy projects.

 

During the two-day meeting, the old National Steering Committee (NSC), none of whom has served for not less than four years, were all appreciated at a ceremony where the UNDP Country Director presented the members with certificates and beautifully inscribed plaques in appreciation of their outstanding voluntary service to the SGP in Nigeria. Afterwards was the inauguration of the new members of the NSC taking over from the old ones.

 

The NSC, chaired by the UNDP Resident Representative, is the highest national organ of the SGP operational structure. It provides strategic direction and professional support to the programmes in accordance with the Country Programme Strategy and in line with the global best practices of the GEF-SGP. The members of the NSC are composed of institutional representatives of some of the GEF implementing partners and also individuals who have distinguished themselves in their areas of expertise and have been seen to be contributing to national development and who are willing to deploy their expertise and experience for the achievement of national and global goals of the GEF-SGP.

 

During the Press Conference, GEF-SGP’s strategy and plans for the next Operational Phase Six were explained and discussed in details to media experts present. The media also had opportunity to ask questions and get details of other issues surrounding the operations of the GEF-SGP in Nigeria. The SGP underscored the fact that the media has always supported SGP and hoped that the mutually beneficial relationship would continue. Thereafter, the technical sessions of the meeting to review proposals that have been submitted for NSC’s review and approval or otherwise commenced.

 

On the second day of the meeting, the NSC were all taken to an SGP-supported project site in Chukuku community in the Kuje Area Council of Abuja. The NSC interacted with the community beneficiaries of the projects, mainly women farmers and got first-hand information on how the project has helped them to address environmental issues and most importantly enhanced their livelihood socially and economically.

 

The new members include  Elizabeth Olofin, Huzi Mshelia, Angela Odah, Betty Abah, Aisha Bello Mustapha, Prof. Olukayode Oladipo, Michael Simire, Esther Agbarakwe and Amos Tanko.

The GEF-SGP National Coordinator, Ibironke Olubamise, in echoing the Federal Government of Nigeria’s words that the ‘SGP is the Flagship of GEF project’, said: ‘ Personally I feel fulfilled when I see the lives of those community people transformed even as we are aiming to achieve global environmental benefits. It is a proof that environmental management and sustainable development with livelihood enhancement can be achieved together if we are committed to making any change.’

According to Mrs. Olubamise, the program has since inception in 2009 impacted lives in 25 states through 116 projects with a grant amount of  $4,050,000 (with total co-financing of $ 3,937,078).

 

Betty Abah, a member of the National Steering Committee said the programme was both unique and timely.

‘I feel truly privileged to be selected as a member of the National Committee’, she said. ‘It is one the few programs that goes beyond the usual talks, seminars and rhetoric and substantially impacts the lives of local people, the most impoverished and underserved, and improves their lives and livelihoods through practical approach. I was really excited to see the women of Chukuku who were not only taught organic farming, thereby beating climate change and enriching tired and non-performing soil, they were also taught to make cook stoves which conserves energy and minimizes waste of fuel woods and related pollution. Much more, the raw materials for the cook stoves (clay) were gotten from their immediate environments. GEF-SPG really empowers and should be applauded,’ she added.