Nigeria receives $23m grant from GEF for environmental projects

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Abuja – Nigeria has received grants totalling 23 million dollars in four years from the Global Environmental Facility (GEF), under its “Big Full Size” project funding, a desk officer, has said.

Mrs Halima Mohammed, GEF’s Desk Officer in the Federal Ministry of Environment, made this known in an interview in Abuja on Wednesday.

Mohammed said that the grants were approved to implement various environmental projects across the country.

The GEF is the largest funder of environmental initiatives in the world, which also provides grants for projects related to biodiversity and climate change.

Other focal areas of its projects are international waters, land degradation, the ozone layer, and Persistent Organic Pollutants.

Mohammed said that the fund was being used to implement projects in the 5th replenishment cycle which, according to her, will end in June 2014.

“The 23 million dollars is used under three focal areas — climate change, biodiversity and land degradation.

“ Under climate change, we received over 14 million dollars, biodiversity, five million dollars and land degradation, three million dollars.

“This allocation is under the System for Transparent Allocation of Resources (STAR), which allows GEF to allocate funds to countries to implement projects in specific focal areas.

“Apart from the 23 million dollars, we have benefitted under STAR, GEF has also approved over six million dollars for us to implement some projects under Persistent Organic Pollutants.’’

The officer said that the grant was to motivate the beneficiaries to commit resources to implementing environmental projects.

She explained the benefiting country was supposed to pay counterpart funding; if GEF approves a project for one dollar, Nigeria is supposed to give out two dollars as counterpart funding.

“Nigeria may decide on the modality to pay the counterpart funding, through the Federal Government, states or the communities.

“The communities contribute by giving lands and by the time you quantify this, they would have made a substantial contribution to the project.’’

According to her, GEF operates in a cycle of four years, called the replenishment cycle, noting that Nigeria is operating in the 5th cycle, which will end in June.

Mohammed, also an Assistant Director in the Federal Ministry of Environment, said Nigeria was supposed to be contributing at least four million dollars Special Drawing Rights (SDR) to the GEF trust fund.

She, however, expressed regret that Nigeria had not been diligent in paying its contributions as it had only redeemed the first and second replenishments.

“Nigeria paid only one million SDR in the third replenishment and we are still struggling with the fourth and fifth replenishments.

“The sixth replenishment cycle meeting has been concluded, during which Nigeria did not pledge anything because there is no point pledging without redeeming.

“This will affect the allocation that we are getting from GEF; so we need to be up and doing in the payment of our contribution in order to benefit more from the grants,” she added.

The GEF works with countries to produce global environmental benefits in a manner that is country-driven and based on national priorities for sustainable development. (NAN)

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