Community grants projects receive funding boost

Several community groups in Samoa stand to benefit from $652,500 worth of funding granted under the United Nations Development Programme and the Global Environment Facility’s Small Grants Programme (U.N.D.P. G.E.F.-S.G.P.).

Fourteen community projects and two in the planning stages are the recipients of grants announced during a small handover ceremony at the One United Nation’s House, Tuana'imato, on Tuesday.

A representative of a community project from the village of Saina, Lauaki Simona told the Samoa Observer that the funds will be utilised for the replanting of mangroves.

“Our mangrove forest is not the same as before, we used to have an abundance of fish but now with fewer mangroves that has had negative impacts on a variety of things,” Mr. Simona said.

He added that despite the three years of waiting for funds, it was all worth it now that it has become a reality.

“We are truly grateful to the donors for choosing our project. The funds will be allocated to those that will be planting mangroves because it is not easy labour but this will benefit also the future generations. 

“Mangroves will not only protect our shorelines from cyclones and waves but also to help prevent erosion by stabilising sediments with their tangled root systems. It has been threatened by an increase in development and settlement.”

He added that their village has been considering this project since 2000.   

“This project will help our village limit the impacts of climate change.”

The Chair of the National Steering Committee for S.G.P., Galumalemana Anne Rasmussen told the audience that in their capacity as the G.E.F. Operational Focal Point, the Government of Samoa through the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment, continues to strengthen its focus on building partnerships for resilient communities in the face of the adverse effects of climate change.

She said that in order to achieve this important balance, the relevant government ministries and local stakeholders continue to work together in close partnership with the U.N.D.P. G.E.F.-S.G.P. to demonstrate that community action can maintain a fine balance between human needs and environmental imperatives, by providing financial and technical support to projects that conserve and restore the environment while enhancing people’s wellbeing and livelihoods. 

According to the U.N.D.P. Resident Representative, Jorn Sorensen, the grants programme has improved the livelihoods of many local communities over the years through the projects it supports.

He added that the S.G.P. is unique for U.N.D.P. as the money goes directly to local communities, including community-based organizations and Non-governmental organisations, who are most at risk given their strong dependency on access to natural resources for their livelihoods, and who often live in fragile ecosystems.

“All projects that S.G.P. funds also embody the essence of sustainable development which is when we consider the health of the entire planet by taking action within our own communities – and that’s the admirable work that most of these recipient organizations are doing,” he added.

In a statement issued by U.N.D.P., it highlighted that the funds were disbursed under Operational Phase 7 of the S.G.P., following a comprehensive technical assessment process by the S.G.P. National Steering Committee (N.S.C.) and Technical Advisory Group (T.A.G.).

The N.S.C. comprises of the Ministry of Natural Resources & Environment, Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries, Ministry of Finance, Ministry of Women Community Social Development, Samoa Umbrella of Non-Governmental Organisations, Samoa Business Hub, Samoa Chamber of Commerce, Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme, Civil Society Support Programme, and Conservation International. 

The S.G.P. provides a full grant of up to US$50,000 or US$5,000 for a planning grant. These grants not only provide financial assistance to our fragile and vulnerable local communities, but much-needed injection into the Samoan economy as well. 

The recipients of these funds came together on Tuesday 1st December 2020, to receive their allocations, and to undertake an inception workshop to help them prepare well for their projects, especially in expending the funds. The workshop also helps build their project management capacity in implementing their approved work plans and financial reporting. 

Helping civil society and community-based groups to progress their innovative and inclusive ideas, was the main reason why S.G.P. was set up in 1992. It is financed by the Global Environment Facility and other partners and implemented by U.N.D.P. 

The next round of funding of US$250,000 will be released in 2021. Once approved, the S.G.P. Secretariat under the guidance of the National Steering Committee will issue the next call for proposals. 

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