The Global Environment Facility (GEF) has launched a small grants programme in Mozambique, aimed at encouraging NGOs and community-based groups to engage in environmentally friendly activities that promote sustainable livelihoods.
The GEF, whose funds are contributed by donor countries, is an independent financial organisation that provides grants to developing countries for projects benefiting the global environment. Programme director Augusto Correia said the Mozambique project totalled US $50,000.
In 2000 Mozambique suffered its worst floods in 50 years, when torrential rains brought by cyclone Eline affected the three southern provinces of Maputo, Gaza and Inhambane, and the central province of Sofala.
Some 700 inhabitants drowned, 500,000 were displaced and one million needed humanitarian assistance. Over 70 percent of the country's 18 million people depend on agriculture.
"We can reduce our vulnerability to natural disasters by promoting environmentally friendly activities. For example, we need to promote activities that use biogas and hydropower, and reduce the use of charcoal and firewood," Correia said.
So far, the GEF has approved proposals from five community-based groups (CBO): three in Maputo province, one in the southern province of Gaza and one in the central province of Manica. Other proposals will be considered until the end of May and next batch will be assessed at the end of June.
One of the CBOs chosen is the Malengane community group in Maputo province, consisting of between 30 and 50 families.
The grant from the programme will assist them to engage in a variety of environmentally friendly activities, such as bee-keeping and planting fruit trees to provide for consumption by the community as well as commercial use.
Besides the financial assistance, the GEF has provided the community with beehives, fruit trees, tools for farming and water pumps. It will also run environmental awareness campaigns, especially on the dangers of deforestation and poaching.
The small grants programme was established globally in 1992, as an outcome of the Rio Earth Summit. Correia pointed out that the programme was in keeping with the Kyoto Protocol, which came into force in Mozambique this week, and was aimed at reducing the amount of greenhouse gases pumped into the atmosphere. Mozambique ratified the protocol in 2004.