Worth USD 4 million, the 4-year project will work through identified Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) in Baringo, Kilifi and Kwale counties.
The focus will be on the Lake Bogoria National Reserve in Baringo, the production landscape of the sacred Mijikenda kaya forests in Kilifi and the Shimoni-Vanga seascape in Kwale.
UNDP says these three regions present different levels of biodiversity and land management for the livelihood of the pastoral, agricultural and fishing communities.
Speaking during the launch of the project, Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Environment Susan Mochache said it would take a concerted effort to mitigate effects of climate change.
She added that the involvement of communities at project inception would lead to better appreciation and buy in for continuity and sustainability.
“I wish to challenge CBOs and NGOs who will receive GEF funds on behalf of local communities to make the most of the funds for a better conserved environment.”
“You should also engage the local community in a meaningful manner that would promote ownership and that would benefit present and future generations,” she said.
UNDP Deputy Country Director, Operations, Catherine Masaka said poor and vulnerable communities are most at risk because they depend on access to natural resources for their livelihoods and often live in fragile ecosystems
“UNDP strongly supports community-based approaches because they help national governments to advance people-centred development solutions,” she said.
Masaka added, “Working with civil society to support innovation from the ground up is an important dimension of UNDP’s country-level work. The bottom line is that local successes should inform national and global solutions in building a sustainable future.”
In its previous 5 phases of operation, the Global Environment Fund (GEF) Small Grants Programme (GEF SGP) in Kenya awarded over 500 grants to civil society organizations. This was to implement a range of climate change mitigation projects among communities.
The projects include uptake of renewable energy technologies such as micro-hydro, biogas and solar, nature based income generating projects for biodiversity conservation, such as bee keeping, eco-tourism, rehabilitation of degraded indigenous forests and restoration of degraded land.
It also supported the installation of energy efficient stoves at domestic/household level as well as in academic institutions.
In addition, communities received technical and financial assistance to adopt renewable energy technologies in the form of solar and biogas, for lighting and cooking in their homes and schools.
Working directly with local communities including women groups, the youth, persons with disabilities and indigenous peoples demonstrates that small community-led projects can foster innovative ways to address environmental challenges.
Indigenous peoples and local communities have a vital part to play in the global effort to protect biodiversity, address climate change and promote sustainable land use.
“They are the custodians of the world’s remaining natural resources including forests, water bodies, land and the atmosphere” added Masaka
The new project will also promote indigenous food consumption and diversification of staple foodstuffs, applications of sound agro-ecological practices and principles, support sustainable grazing practices and herd management and strengthen governance of beach management units for improved management of fisheries.
The GEF Small grants Programme was launched in 1993 at the Rio Summit, and implemented by UNDP as a global Programme.
It was established to support the participation of local communities in the conservation of natural resources and protection of eco systems of global significance.
SGP Kenya is part of a worldwide Programme that operates in 125 countries addressing global environmental issues and achieving Sustainable development Goals.
The UNDP has also called for partnerships with various stakeholders to support the Arid and Semi-Arid Lands (ASALs) counties in Kenya unleash their potential.
The ASALs make up to 89 per cent of the country, covering 29 counties and a population of about 16 million people.
The UN Resident coordinator and UNDP Representative Siddharth Chatterjee says that investing in these counties, especially agriculture, would help pull people out of poverty.
“Agriculture has been proved to pull the maximum number of people out of poverty. The UN family will work with the government and the private sector to ensure food security and resilience is achieved.”
Chatterjee was speaking at a conference in Malindi, Kilifi County where Deputy President William Ruto said there was need to change the narrative of ASAL communities from marginalization to opportunity and potential.
“Arid and Semi-Arid areas have great economic potential and if unlocked, can change millions of lives, lift up communities and secure prosperity for many generations,” Ruto said.
The conference was organized to enable ASAL counties