UN calls on Ghana to establish Environment Fund through budget allocations

Mr George Orstin, National Coordinator of the UNDP Global Environment Facility (GEF) on Wednesday called on the Ghana government to establish a community environmental development fund through the annual budget allocations.

This, he said would support grassroots level non-governmental and community based organisations to help preserve the environment.

“This fund must be made available exclusively to environmental civil society organisations (CBOs) to be accessed for sustainable environmental management activities”,  he stressed.

Mr Orstin was speaking at the signing of a memorandum of agreement ceremony under the GEF Small Grant Programme of the UNDP with selected non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and CBO’s in Accra.

He said Ghana should no longer depend on the meager support from donor countries to manage the environment.

He explained that most CBOs and NGO were categorised as one of the three strong pillars in the sustainable environmental management structures in the country.

“They sustain biodiversity conservation, adopt strategies to mitigate the effects of climate change and promote sustainable land management, using indigenous management practices with modern science.”

He said however, their activities had not been mainstreamed into formal environmental management structures whilst their contributions had also not been captured in the national statistics.

Mr Orstin said the organizations continued to grope in difficulties seeking for funding to support the poor and the vulnerable in fragile ecosystems.

The signing ceremony afforded six CBOs  the opportunity to be awarded various grants to undertake programmes that would help preserve the environment.

Eight other CBOs had already signed the agreement and given various monies under a total grant of $350,000 to implement environmental projects in the Greater Accra, Brong Ahafo, Upper East, Northern and Upper West regions.

The projects to be undertaken include restoration of degraded lands through sustainable land management, developing capacities of rural framers to invest in sustainable land management practices, sustainable woodland management, conservation of threatened native species and awareness creation on the effects of the use of agro-chemicals and the promoting of organic farming.

Mr Orstin said the GEF small grants over the past five years had served as one of the few developments from partners that lend financial and technical support directly to rural community groups in sustainable environmental management.

He said the programme operates on the axiom that environmental problems could best be addressed: “If the local people affected by the problems are involved and there are direct benefits and ownership of the process.”

The programme had supported the establishment of six community conserved areas in the northern savannah ecosystems measuring 9,000 hectares, invested in three ecotourism sites, mapped and documented 264 sacred groves within the southern dry marginal forest ecosystem covering 5,000 hectares of community sacred forest.

It has also supported the conservation of rare endangered species and established 10 community conservation sanctuaries catering for monkey, crocodile and hippopotamus.

Dr James K. Adomako, Chairman of the Steering Committee of  GEF said the annual grants had over the past four years supported 53 CBOs living around the biological hotspots, international water ways, migratory corridors and degraded landscapes within the coastal and northern savanna ecosystems with an amount of $2.61 million in grants.

He said this year, more than 65 community groups submitted proposals but only 20 per cent of them won the grant with the remaining proposals deferred to the net round of funding.

Dr Adomako urged the winners to make judicious use of the funds to address environmental challenges as well as poverty issues.

Some of the grants winners include, the Bimbilla Community Afforestation Group – $27,900, Bright Generation Community Foundation, $30,200, Foundation for Sustainable Management of Natural Resources, $24,700, Tema Cooperative Sunflower Producers $30,000 and Human Care and Maintenance Foundation $20,000.

Source: GNA

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