Daily Trust (Abuja)

Nigeria: $22m Project to Save Countries From Desertification

This is an august gathering on behalf of two Nigeria's development partners - the Global Mechanism and UNEP/GEF which as you are aware, are the two leading organisations that supported the governments of Nigeria and Niger in initiating the processes that led to the preparation of the project for the Integrated Ecosystem Management in Shared Watersheds between these two countries.

As you know, the Global Mechanism is one of the two institutional bodies of the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD). The mandate of the Global Mechanism is to increase the effectiveness and efficiency of existing financial resources and to promote actions leading to the mobilisation and channelling of additional financial resources, including technology transfer, to the implementation of the UNCCD. The Global Mechanism can therefore be seen as a broker that matches national and sub-region level demands against identified supplies. It is in this capacity that the Global Mechanism is participating in this Round Table.

The following are some of the background information on the development of the Niger-Nigeria Trans-boundary Project (i.e. to use its popular name) and by so doing, illustrate the brokerage and partnership-building role of the Global Mechanism.

This project falls under the sub-regional Action Plan (SRAP) of the UNCCD for West Africa. The completion of the SRAP in 1999 offered an opportunity to use sub-regional instrument to support the governments concerned in addressing the negative, reciprocal cross-border externalities that characterised developments in the Niger-Nigeria trans-frontier zone in the 1970s and 1980s. Between August and October 1999, the Global Mechanism brokered a collaborative arrangement involving the World Bank, FAO and UNEP to support the two governments in their efforts to address the issue of inequitable sharing in the development, conservation and use of common water and other natural resources in the common trans-frontier zone. An issues and options paper commissioned by the World Bank (through the Global Mechanism) was drafted by the FAO Investment Centre, which highlighted issues that it recommended by given attention prior to the design and implementation of sustainable trans-boundary watershed management. Theses issues were of a political, institutional, technical, hydrological, environmental, social and legal nature.

In response to the FAO recommendations, stakeholders' workshop was organised in July 2000 in Kano, Nigeria with a PDF-A grant from UNEP/GEF combined with a facilitation grant from the Global Mechanism. The workshop resulted in a request for a GEF planning grant (PDP-B)d that was processed and approved through UNEP/GEF (June 2001). The planning phase was launched in June 2001 in Niamey, Niger and was implemented by UNEP (as the lead agency) in collaboration with UNDP.

Today, the PDF-B planning phase of the Niger-Nigeria Trans-boundary project has produced a fully-fledged project for which we are seeking additional partnerships for funding. The details of the project will be provided later today by the government. Here it suffices for me to say that the financing plan for the project includes the following: of the estimated project cost of about US $22 million, a GEF grant of about US $10 million will be provided to the two governments to finance the incremental costs, the rest must be raised through co-financing. As the project is linked to the SRAP, the Global Mechanism has been designated the partner institution to work with the two governments to mobilise the required co-financing. The Global Mechanism accepts the challenge and looks forward to working with you all. The Global Mechanism will also continue to work with its traditional partners; the GEF Secretariat \, UNEP, the World Bank, UNDO, CCD Secretariat and others, to realise this goal.

A joint project of the government of the two countries, the Global mechanism will encourage the active participation of the Niger-Nigeria Joint Commission in the implementation of the project. In this regard strengthening of the Commission to empower it to play its coordination role is a priority.

Inter-agency coordination is also a very important pre-requisite for the successful implementation of the project. Efforts were made by UNEP/GEF and the two governments to take the ongoing projects into consideration in designing this project. However, new projects are being initiated, the latest being the project for Improving Land and Water Resources Management in he Komadugu Yobe Basin (May 2003) with the IUCN as the lead agency. We also understand that implementation of the long-awaited Fadama II project financed by the World Bank may soon become operative.

The Global Mechanism had initiated dialogue with the World Bank, IFAD, UNEP, FAO and UNDP on the need for urgent inter-agency coordination in their development support within the concerned basins. Accordingly, in its brokering-capacity, the Global Mechanism intends to convene in the near future an inter-agency coordination meeting with the aim to harmonise and minimise duplication in the development efforts in Northern Nigeria and Southern Niger.

It is pertinent to conclude by saying that resource mobilisation for a project of this nature is a continuous process and today marks the beginning of that process. I hope we will all leave here with the resolve to support this noble initiative. On behalf of the Managing Director of the Global Mechanism, Mr. Per Ryden, and also on behalf of our colleagues from UNEP/GEF, I wish you fruitful deliberations.

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