SAMOA VILLAGES GET DEVELOPMENT GRANTS

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New Zealand agency turns over $200,000

APIA, Samoa (Samoa Observer, April 18, 2008) – Eight village communities yesterday received their first cheque to begin conservation projects, in partnership with the Small Grants Programme (SGP).

The presentation held at UNESCO, Matautu, was the first time the SGP has in one disbursement given out more than $200,000 of grants to village communities.

The eight villages presented with their cheques yesterday were:

Launched in 2005, the GEF/NZAID Small Grants programme began with a grant commitment of US$165,000 to support 42 projects relating to environmental sustainability.

Between 2006 and 2007, the programme committed another US$143,331 to 24 projects.

Projects funded by the programme target the five GEF Thematic Areas: Biodiversity, land degradation, international waters, persistent organic pollutants and climate change.

Since its inception in 2005, 22 projects have been initiated, with an additional eight projects receiving their first grant disbursement.

Under the Small Grants Programme, project funds range from $4,000 (for a planning grant) to between $50,000 - $120,000 tala for full-size projects.

The Samoa Small Grants Programme delights itself on its direct working partnerships with village communities in Upolu, Savai’i and Manono, involving itself at many stages of the projects from the development phase to finding other sources of support for the communities.

The work of SGP in the country, would not have been possible without the commitment and involvement of its National Steering Committee members, who advise on the type of projects that the programme should approve, focusing on building an impact-oriented programme with tangible results in the field.

This focus has resulted in a variety of projects that, between them, have built capacity within local communities, established marine protected areas, and promoted environmentally-friendly development such as eco-cultural tourism and the conservation of mangrove and wetland eco-systems.

Not only this, the National Steering Committee has given a lot of thought and consideration to approving water tank projects, mainly in drought-prone areas in Samoa, such as the villages of Neiafu and Falealupo.

The GEF/NZAID partnership on the Small Grants Programme is proving to be an ideal modality for village-based projects whereby communities themselves are responsible for the development and management of their own project.

As a result, some community projects have established strong partnerships with the relevant government ministries, including the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries (Fisheries Division) and the Ministry of Natural Resources Environment, and Meteorology (Division of Environment and Conservation). This government support provides the communities in charge of the projects with technical advice and on-going project monitoring.

The widespread work of SGP in the field has lead to other interested parties willing to put in their support to the Small Grants Programme under specific thematic areas.

The Small Grants Programme portfolio on "Climate Change" has been receiving the most interest from donor partners, including the UNDP-GEF Community-based Adaptation Programme and the AusAID Vulnerability and Adaptation fund.

Both of these programmes are now executed by the Small Grants Programme with a focus on adaptation projects, including both coastal and forest ecosystem rehabilitation.

The inclusion of the UNDP-GEF CBA and the AusAID V &A projects has seen the Samoa Small Grants Programme Portfolio expanding its area of focus and also the amount of funds available for Non-Governmental Organizations and Community-Based Organizations.

These two programmes will bring into the Small Gants Programme an immense amount of project funds: the community based adaptation programme has provided $400,000USD (1 million tala) for the four years 2008-2011, while the AusAID fund is worth $400,000.00 AUD (T$800,000) for the two years 2008-2009.

Altogether, this equips the Small Grants Programme with the financial resources to support projects relating to Climate Change and Adaptation.

The GEF/NZAID Small Grants Programme will continue to provide funding support to village-based communities and NGO’s to enable the sustainable management and conservation of Samoa’s natural resources.

Samoa Observer: www.samoaobserver.ws/

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