Community Aldeia Day 4
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Panel 1: Community Responses to Climate Change

Moderated by Delfin Ganapin (Global manager, GEF-Small Grants Programme)

11:30 AM – 1:00 PM

Day Four of the Aldeia began with a panel discussion focusing on community-based responses to climate change. The panel was facilitated by the UNDP/GEF Small Grants Programme's Delfin Ganapin, who began by recognizing the important work being done by this year's winners, much of which has been either directly or indirectly in response to the threats posed by climate change. Whether confronting the challenges of unpredictable weather patterns, natural disasters, or rising sea levels, rural communities face the effects of climate change as a daily concern, rather than an abstract future. Participants heard how the Abrha Weatsbha initiative in Ethiopia had transformed the agricultural productivity of a village to prevent its resettlement; how Association Amsing has used a system of buried pipes to reduce the impacts of flooding for the mountain community of Elmoudaa, Morocco; and how the 500 residents of the 1.7-km² Namdrik Atoll in the Marshall Islands have used sustainable land use planning to maintain their island existence.

The Abrha Weatsbha initiative (Ethiopia) was represented by its chairman Gabremichael Gidey, who presented on its innovative work in soil rehabilitation, water conservation, and reforestation in the Tigray region. After desertification and widespread soil degradation had pushed the Abrha Weatsbha village to the verge of resettlement, the community dedicated itself to reforestation, improved water catchment protection, and the introduction of grazing restrictions that allowed the community to not only remain in their traditional homeland, but to greatly improve their incomes through fruit tree harvests and new income-generating activities such as honey production. Click the picture to the right to view this presentation.

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Next to present was Siad Zirr, the president of Association Amsing from the mountain village of Elmoudaa, Morocco. Faced with the threats of increasingly unpredictable weather patterns, the village community acted to increase their environmental resilience. The initiative has restored tree cover across the hills that surround their village in order to reduce their risk of flash floods that have devastated neighboring communities in recent years. In addition to these extensive reforestation efforts, the group has also worked with several partners to construct small dams in surrounding gulches and gullies that have resulted in reduced downstream sedimentation and increased the village’s control over water flow. The community has strategically used fruit and nut tree species, including apples, apricots and almonds, in their replanting efforts that have helped to supplement household incomes and improve local food security. Click the picture to the right to view this presentation.

Clarence Luther, mayor of the Namdrik Atoll (Marshall Islands) followed by describing his community’s work in promoting a model of self-sufficiency, local food security and adaptation to rising sea levels. Luther is here at the Aldeia on behalf of the Namdrik Atoll Local Resource Committee. The Committee helps organize and train the atoll’s families in the reintroduction of traditional crops such as breadfruit, taro and native pandanus in order to protect and restore soil, improve food security and open value-added secondary processing industries for local communities.

A pearl hatchery provides jobs and a revenue stream to fund community development projects in education and health. Shoreline restoration has been undertaken through planting indigenous mangrove species. Training in rainwater harvesting is providing the community with access to safe drinking water, while solar technology is gives a source of renewable energy. The initiative is community-owned, fueled by local leadership, and has provided a sustainability model that has been replicated in other atoll communities across islands in the Pacific. Click the picture to the right to view this presentation.

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SGP presentation

2:00 PM- 3:00 PM

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The Aldeia hosted Delfin Ganapin (Global Manager) and Prabhjot Sodhi (National Coordinator for India) of the UNDP/Global Environment Facility Small Grants Programme. As it celebrates its 20th anniversary, SGP can reflect on two decades of providing urgently needed small grants to rural communities across the world. Since its launch following the Rio Earth Summit in 1992, SGP has invested some USD 634 million in support of 14,500 projects in more than 125 countries. Mr. Ganapin described how funding is tailored to those who most need it, and how a high level of national-level ownership has sustained its success over time. Click the picture to the right to view this presentation.

Mr. Sodhi talked about the work of SGP in India. The programme is hosted by the Centre for Environment Education (CEE), and is implemented with the support of the GEF, the Indian Ministry of Environment and Forests, and the United Nations Development Programme. They are currently working with around 330 projects, both through supplying project funding and by catalyzing local action. Examples include cultivating yams and other traditional tubers in gene banks; supporting community-based decision-making processes; community-managed waste disposal; and creating biofuel briquettes for use as an alternative energy source. Click the picture to the right to view this presentation.

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These presentations informed a discussion about the role SGP can play in stimulating transformative local action, and how the participants of the Community Aldeia can engage with their respective SGP country offices.

Panel 2: Forests, seeds and livelihoods

Moderated by Salifou Assane Seiny (Ecole Instrument de Paix, Niger)

3:30 PM – 5:00 PM

The second panel presentation of the day featured three projects from Africa - from Liberia and Togo in the west, and Swaziland in the south – that demonstrate the innovations that are helping to relieve pressures on fragile ecosystems in Equator Prize-winner communities. In Liberia, for example, bee-keeping, snail farming, and moringa cultivation allow farmers to generate up to USD 3,500 a year; in Togo, the community of Ando Kpomey has instituted regulations on harvesting non-timber forest products from its 100-hectare forest; while in Swaziland, women use the discarded seeds from marula fruits to produce oils for use in beauty products.

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Ezekiel Tye Freeman presented on the work of the West Africa Initiative of Liberia, which began in response to fifteen years of civil crisis that had devastated local livelihood options across the country. As country coordinator, Mr. Freeman oversees the use of Farmer Field Schools to train rural producers in sustainable agricultural techniques and alternative livelihood activities, including bee-keeping, snail farming, cultivation of Moringa (moringa olieifera), and integrated crops and pest management, as well as the use of revolving loan schemes. Importantly, the initiative has incorporated an exit strategy into its rural interventions, through which the farmer field schools become self-sufficient community-based farming groups. Click the picture to the left to view this presentation.

This presentation was followed by Koku Agbee Koto and Komi Mawuko Modzi, representatives of the Village Development Committee of Ando Kpomey (Togo). They described the community’s work in establishing a green belt around their village that has become a 100-hectare community forest. A participatory management committee has been established to monitor the forest and its resources and to regulate its use. The community authorizes limited resource extraction to meet livelihood needs and manages revenues generated from the sale of forest-based products. Local women are authorized entry to the community forest to access firewood, significantly reducing the average time needed to forage for cooking fuel. Various crops are grown in the forest, including a range of medicinal plants which have served to bolster local healthcare needs. Village tree nurseries have been established for the purpose of reforestation and afforestation, while alternative livelihood activities such as snail rearing and apiculture have been promoted. Click the picture to the right to view this presentation.

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In a third example of finding opportunities for adding value to available natural resources, Sindile Cinderella Mamba of Swazi Secrets (Swaziland) described the work of her innovative enterprise. This member-owned seed oil enterprise provides jobs and income for local women, while also protecting the ecosystems of the Lubombo region of the country. Local women are supported to sustainably cultivate and collect wild marula, trichilia, and ximenia tree seeds. Seed oils are used to produce skin care products. To capture a greater share of the market supply-chain, the group created its own line of skincare products, Swazi Secrets. The enterprise has paid out more than USD 396,000 to its members over the last seven years. Additional incomes from seed collection have helped to offset healthcare and education costs, and improved the status of women in decision-making processes. Click the picture to the left to view this presentation.