Adansonia, Francistown, Botswana - On the occasion of its 20th anniversary, the GEF Small Grants Programme (GEF SGP) in Botswana, implemented by UNDP, organized a capacity development workshop and a knowledge fair to share the results of its portfolio and find partners to scale up some of its best practices. The event included SGP grantees, government officials, the academia and the media and was broadcasted nationwide in Botswana. The 6- day event kicked off on 22 October, 2012 and was co-hosted by the Kalahari Conservation Society and BirdLife Botswana, in the Adansonia Hotel in Francistown Botswana.
The capacity development workshop was geared towards addressing the knowledge needs of SGP grantees and other key stakeholders to enhance future project implementation promote greater replication and scale up and influence policy with the best community-based practices in sustainable development. This learning activity enabled participants to learn about the SGP programme strategy and GEF targets, improve the grant making process, increase awareness of SGP and the GEF in the country, and promote partnerships and networking.
The workshop focused on project planning and design, proposal writing, budgeting, grant management, governance, monitoring and evaluation, knowledge management, communications and networking. The presentations were delivered by experts and grantees and were an opportunity to present innovative practices developed by GEF SGP grantees. After the presentations, the participants were able to have peer-to-peer exchanges and get one-one advice from other community members, as well as from government officials, expert development practitioners, and SGP National Steering Committee Members.
In addition to hands on training, the workshop also included thematic sessions. One of these sessions was on the importance of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), Rio Conventions and other multi-lateral agreements and the implications and opportunities for the civil society. This session gave practical tips on how to interact with the focal points and other key players and concluded with useful information on how to access funds for GEF Medium and Full Size projects, in an effort to scale up the work started by SGP.
The Member of Parliament for Francistown South and member of the Parliamentary Committee on Wildlife, Tourism, Natural Resources and Climate Change Honourable Wynter Mmolotsi officially opened the knowledge fair with an interesting assessment on climate change and its impacts on livelihoods.The knowledge fair gave SGP grantees and other stakeholders an opportunity to network, collaborate, and celebrate 20 years of community based environmental conservation. By highlighting the most innovative projects and practices in all focal areas, the knowledge fair served as a platform to promote greater policy influence, as well as replication and scale up of the SGP supported projects. The fair also promoted greater sustainability of SGP projects by enhancing the capacities of grantee partners to mobilize resources and raise co-financing. Useful tips included information on specific funding windows from the government and the private sector they could apply to.
One of the innovative and thought provoking projects presented was a project on the conservation of morula (Sclerocarya birrea), an indigenous fruit bearing tree, though the production of morula sweets. The project was implemented by the Departments of Mechanical Engineering, Industrial Design and Technology at the University of Botswana and a group of women under the auspices of the Dibapalwa Nageng Trust. Thanks to the SGP support, the Department of Mechanical Engineering designed and developed a morula mini processing plant to enhance food hygiene and handling while improving production both in scale and quality. The morula mini plant was designed to de-stone morula fruits separating the skin and the juice from the nut to produce morula paste (combination of juice, skin and pulp) in larger quantities. Dr. Robert Batane indicated that the morula mini plant has been tested and found to be able to load about 15 kg of morula at an efficiency extraction of 85% with an extraction time of 10-15 minutes. In addition, it has a loading interval of 5 minutes and a processing time of about 10 times. This innovation has contributed to increased income and economic sustainability for the women and most importantly, to a significant increase in the conservation value of the morula.
The fair also included a dialogue led by a panel of experts and grantees on the impact of climate change in the livelihoods of communities, an event supported by the Poverty Environment Initiative, a programme of the United Nations Environment Programme and the government of Botswana. The panel discussion was later broadcasted on Botswana Television through the Living the Vision programme, helping to raise awareness about the strong relation between environmental degradation and livelihoods at the national level.
The events were concluded with a visit to SGP projects in northeastern Botswana, During the field mission, both the project proponents and other grantees were interviewed by Wena le Tikologolo (meaning You and the Environment), a Botswana Radio programme. The presenter of the programme Mr. Benedict Tatolo indicated that he found the projects contributing to improvement of environmental conservation and livelihoods by empowering communities use natural resources in a sustainable way.
An interview with the National Coordinator Ms. Elsie Tolani Mvimi was also aired in an effort to provide information and awareness. In the picture to the right, you can find Mr. Tatolo interviewing Dr. Nfila of Zwemishamba Community Conservation Trust.