UNDP & Environment Proection Agency monitor GEF-funded Small-Sized Projects

By Ishmael Kindama Dumbuya

The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the Environment Protection Agency of Sierra Leone (EPASL) have concluded a joint monitoring exercise of the third cycle of projects supported through the Global Environment Facility (GEF), Small Grants Programme (SGP) in Sierra Leone. The objective of the mission was to supervise project progress by groundtruthing reports, and identify any challenges experienced by grantee(s) that may require further support from the National Steering Committee (NSC); ensure that project funds are being used as planned, and approve changes if appropriate; and verify that project resources and activities are producing expected results. The GEF Small Grants Programme has been active in the country since October 2012, and has supported over 40 community-level projects in conservation of biodiversity, climate change mitigation, community-based adaptation, chemicals management, sustainable land management, sustainable forest management and capacity development.

For this mission, 15 project sites were visited, with activities ranging from agro-forestry to technology transfer, knowledge management and solid waste management. In Malambay- Kambia District, the team visited a water supply facility constructed by the Renewable Energy and Environment Experts, which showcases the uses of solar energy to supply water to 6 water points in 3 communities. The project is positively impacting the livelihoods of the community people. It serves a major response to water insecurity in that part of the country. This idea could be scaled up to address the increasing water access issues across rural areas in the country. A second site in Malambay where a multi-purpose facility is being constructed by the Malambay Development Association was visited. The facility will hold a pest-proof storage facility, a milling plant, a drying floor and a learning centre. These two projects are a scale-up of the community forestry initiative started back in April 2013 with funding provided by the UN Development Programme. They offer sustainable incentives for environmental management, and will bolster community learning, alleviate poverty, create jobs, and empower youth and women.

Improved Charcoal Production System at McDonalds

Improved Charcoal Production System at McDonalds

The team also visited a number of other progressive projects across the country, namely; the Kasewe forest reserve to learn first-hand the progress the School of Forestry and Horticulture, Njala University has made with their research on the reserve’s current level of biological diversity and threats; Bumpe Gao Chiefdom, where Foundation for Integrated Development (FID) has constructed 28 of the 50 medical waste incinerators for  Peripheral Health Units and provided training on medical waste sorting and disposal; Kinya and Bongor, where Environmental Net-Value Enhancement (ENVE) is providing support to community groups for IVS farming, CLTS and eco-stoves production and commercialisation; Yargoi, one of the communities in which Advocacy Movement Network has installed a solar-powered community charging station; Bo, where ADVOCATE plus has established a compost-making facility that has created opportunities for managing solid waste, reducing exposure to chemical risks, and powering waste-derived businesses and organic agriculture; and many others.

A major highlight of the many sites visited is the Improved Charcoal Production System (ICPS) constructed at York and McDonalds by Clean Energy Solutions (CES). The retort system will be used for producing high-value charcoal, and creating a hub for community learning on the effects of deforestation of the Western Area Peninsula Forest Reserve. The ICPS will significantly address the looming rural energy needs of the Western Area and cut back on the drive for fuelwood and other forest products for energy production in the homes. CES plans to demonstrate the use of the retort for briquette production and other forms of feedstock for improved stoves, which will diversify the livelihoods of handlers, enhance environmental resources management and strengthen knowledge transfer.



Overall, the team observed that there is a huge promise in many of the projects being implemented, and that significant improvements to livelihoods can be accomplished from the ground-up if the beneficiaries and implementers have the right capacity, attitude and concerns for the environment. It will take some time for the regulators- UNDP, GEF, UNOPS and EPA- to iron out the identified capacity issues, which is a common currency in many debates involving the provision of support to communities through CSOs. It will take time, but there is hope in the fact that communities have become increasingly interested and involved in rolling out their own initiatives, generating ownership and the ability to explore and expand potential opportunities in a sustainable manner. This has ensured productive community learning that has made the Small Grants Programme (SGP) relevant and effective.

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