Rwanda is hosting a four-day Global Environment Facility expanded constituency workshop which is an international forum organized by Global Environment Facility (GEF), a fund for projects to improve the environment, especially projects related to biodiversity, climate change, international waters, land degradation, the ozone layer, and persistent organic pollutants.
The workshop will discuss about how country stakeholders can get involved in GEF 2020 strategy, its new fee policy and procedures for civil society participation in programs and projects.
According to Susan Waithaka from GEF, which is based in Washington, 40 countries are represented in the meeting, which will also look at the funding for the GEF as one of the challenges facing the program. The current cycle (which is the fifth) ends in 2014.
"The environment is degrading, several species are in danger. The reality is that we need to do a lot to have a transformational change," she said. "There is a need of a hundred billion of dollars, but we are getting just one million where we need ten."
"It is important for the private and public sector to work together to address the huge challenges. We have to make sure that we don't reach a point of no return," Waithaka observed.
Five countries (Rwanda included) in GEF had an allocation to implement activities in biodiversity, land degradation and climate change as focal areas. According to the head of Rwanda Environmental Management Authority (REMA), Rose Mukankomeje, GEF has helped the country in efforts to conserve marshlands especially the ones of Rugezi and Kamiranzovu. GEF also supported the effective water management at Rweru-Bugesera complex to make the dry area of Bugesera green and humid.
"GEF supported the marshland conservation for three reasons: effective water management, biodiversity conservation mainly because in marshlands we find particular species, and use of the marshlands' water to be used in agriculture (irrigation) and in hydro-electricity generation for instance Rugezi marshland in Burera-North," Mukankomeje said, adding that Kamiranzovu marshland attracts tourists for bird spotting.
GEF also sponsored the country's program of conserving high mountains forests in Nyungwa National Park and Volcano National Park among others. Focusing also on biodiversity, preventing citizens from entering the parks but instead invest in projects carried within the parks like beekeeping on Nyungwe National Park, where people in the neighborhoods who have formed cooperatives are benefiting.
GEF had provided US$ 4.3 million for the marshlands project, which is completed, and US$ 5.5 million for forest conservation. "GEF has so far given us more than US$ 10 million for different projects. We now have a project of a landscape approach to environment conservation, with the fight against land degradation, forest conservation, etc. This will cost almost US$ 10 million," REMA's DG stated.