24 October 2013

Location: Windhoek, Namibia


The GEF Small Grants Programme (SGP) shared innovative practices from its Land Degradation project portfolio while actively participating in the 11th Conference of Parties (COP 11) of the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) which was held in Windhoek, Namibia during September 16th -27th 2013.

On September 19th, Mr. Charles Nyandiga, SGP Programme Advisor on Land Degradation, joined a panel on "Drylands Biodiversity and Sustainable  Land Management", a side event organized jointly by the UNCCD and the CBD. Mr. Nyandiga illustrated how SGP practices contribute to dryland conservation at the local level, in line with the UNCCD's overall efforts to focus on pro-poor land management and community-lands in resource-rich areas. Activities undertaken by SGP through its grant projects include, among others, a focus on participatory management or co-management of protected areas and buffer zones, promoting sustainable agricultural practices and giving biodiversity conservation a central role in the production landscape.

Mr. Nyandiga cited the example of SGP's agro-forestry projects, which, in addition to undertaking reforestation and soil regeneration activities, focus on conserving indigenous species for sustainable exploitation. Similarly, SGP demonstration sites near protected areas have contributed to the natural regeneration of forests, conservation of rare and endemic species, reducing impacts of climate change and offered learning and livelihood opportunities for communities. Emphasizing the delicate link between the environment and livelihoods, Mr. Nyandiga stressed that diversification of livelihoods combined with sound land management approaches also form important elements of climate change mitigation and adaptation, and contribute positively to disaster risk reduction.

SGP grant recipients, consisting of nearly 20 community groups, also participated actively in the events at the COP. Their participation was generously supported by the Environment Investment Fund of Namibia, which serves as SGP's national host institution. SGP grantees shared experiences during several community roundtables held in the first week of the COP. In addition, SGP was also present at the Namibian pavilion where it displayed a number of knowledge products and publications on good practices from the SGP portfolio on land degradation.

On September 23rd, SGP and its grantee Creative Entrepreneurs Solutions (CES) held a side event to present the EzyStove, a fuel-efficient stove that is designed to meet the needs of Namibian women. It is user-friendly and easy to assemble, and it boils 2 liters of water in 8 minutes using just one short branch of wood. The stoves reduce fuel wood consumption by two thirds, while also reducing wood smoke emissions by 60 to 80 percent.

The Pupkewitz Foundation, a private sector company that co-financed the EzyStove, donated 100 stoves to individuals, including two Regional Councilors to inspire them to raise awareness about the adverse impacts of open fires and deforestation in their communities and help them adopt fuel efficient stoves. This handover occurred during a Business Forum on 'Innovation and options for the Future' on September 24th, 2013.

The SGP-supported EzyStove project has received a number of awards. Most recently, the stove's applicability and energy saving potential was honored with the "innovation award", which the UN Secretary General bestowed at the UNFCCC "Momentum for Change - 2012 Lighthouse Activities" event at the COP 18 in Qatar-Doha.