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Jul 2, 2015, 9:59 AM
The National Environment Agency (NEA) on Friday ended a three-day workshop at the Paradise Suites Hotel in Kololi.
Stakeholders at the workshop included community members, district chiefs, NGO representatives and members of regional technical advisory committees.
Speaking on the occasion, Momodou B. Sarr, executive director of NEA, said the national portfolio formulation exercise was preceded by discussions on the Global Environment Facility (GEF).
According to Sarr, the national portfolio formulation exercise is as a result of long and hard discussion among recipient countries on need to control the manner GEF projects are conceptualized.
“The recipient countries are then only invited at a late stage to participate in the project after the concepts have been developed, and in some of these cases the project ideas are not always in line with national priorities,” he said.
The financial support being provided by the GEF to conduct the national portfolio formulation exercise therefore aims to strengthen country ownership over decision on GEF-resource programmes among others, he says: “The importance of this validation workshop therefore cannot be overemphasized.”
He disclosed that The Gambia has received over US$8,000.000 from GEF as its country allocation between July 2011 and June 2014.
He said that instead of one office dictating which project need to be developed, “the NEA has instead travelled the length and breadth of the country to consult all the major stakeholders”.
“A team of consultants has been recruited and had since embarked on extensive countrywide consultation meetings to sensitise key stakeholders including local authorities, key ministries, the UNDP and the civil society partners on the GEF strategic objective under GEF 5-Star allocation.”
During the three days, participants validated the report of the project concept development to achieve a final output of the national portfolio formulation document (NPFD), which will consist of an indication list of priority project.
The Minister of Forestry and Environment, Jatto Sillah, said that the NEA has been engaging with national stakeholders in consultation at all regions and the team has core grassroots community representations to identify their needs which would have to be enlisted into bankable project for GEF5-Star.
According to him, this first-time available GEF funding consultation is done by the government at the grassroots level through the environment sector.
“Such activities were done by the NGOs but not by the government, which is a clear manifestation that the leadership of this country is visionary and innovative, starting from the President of The Gambia,” he said
The Gambia, he added, has been allocated USS8.7 million (over D240 million) to use during the GEF 5-Star allocation funding period.
“This is unprecedented,” Minister Sillah remarked. “In all our past GEF-funding allocations from GEF 1 to GEF 4 - we have never got this amount. We commend this achievement to Momodou Sarr, a noble dedicated servant to The Gambia.”
He further revealed that the USS8.7 million GEF funding to The Gambia has been earmarked for three focal areas.
“The Government of The Gambia through the Ministry of Forestry and Environment has been engaging in significant environment policy formulation to significantly reduce the effect of climate change, land degradation and biodiversity loss. “We are one of the leading pioneers of the environmental conservation in sub-Saharan Africa,” he disclosed.