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Country paper for the GEF African Meeting of National Focal Points February 20 – 21, 2002 Dakar, Senegal.
Kebba Bojang 1
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------Senior Programme Office, The National Environment Agency, %, Fitzgerald Street, Banjul, The Gambia.
The Gambia’s experiences in the coordination of GEF programmes.
Introduction and background. The objective of this country paper is to discuss and share experiences on issues pertaining to coordination and implementation of GEF activities in The Gambia with colleagues from other parts of the continent. It is hoped that such regional collaboration in the sharing of experiences greatly improve the service delivery to the GEF clientele. The paper will attempt to follow (as much as possible) the format for the outline provided for the workshop. Having actively participated at the UN Conference on Environment and Development held in Rio 1994, The government of The Gambia has fully herself to the principles of Sustainable Development as embodied in Agenda 21. In the pursuit of sustainable development objectives, The Gambia signed and ratified the 3 Post-Rio conventions on the environment and proceeded to establish The National Environment Agency (NEA) as the central coordinating institution responsible for all matters relating to the environment. In line with its functions as having responsibility for environmental matters, the NEA was also designated as the GEF Operational Focal Point in The Gambia. The mandate of the Operational Focal Point is to serve as the central body for all GEF related activities in the country. The operational focal point also performs the important function of disseminating relevant information to stakeholders. The focal point however executes most of its functions through a national committee known as the GEF National Committee. The National Environment Agency The National Environment Agency was established in July 1993 as a semi-autonomous institution under The Office of The President and charged with the responsibility of coordinating all matters (nationally and internationally) relating to the environment. One of its main functions is to oversee the implementation of The Gambia Environmental Action Plan (GEAP), which is an action plan to address The Gambia’s environmental problems. The GEAP, which identified the major environmental issues affecting The Gambia, is operationalised through 10 programme areas namely: The Agriculture and Natural Resources Management programme (ANR). The Environmental Education programme. The Environmental Impact Assessment programme (EIA). The Environmental Information Systems programme. The Environmental Legislation programme. The Ozone programme. The Coastal and Marine Resources Management programme. The Environmental Quality programme. The Contingency Planning and Disaster Management programme. The 10 programme areas execute their programme functions through established Working groups, task forces and committees, which bring together all the relevant key players within the sector concerned. One such committee within this setup is The national GEF Committee.
The National GEF Committee. The National GEF Committee was created in 1998 under the ANR programme. Although this committee is located within the ANR programme, given its area of operation, it coverage is cross cutting and affects other programme areas as well. The National GEF Committee working under the auspices of the operational focal point, serves as a clearinghouse mechanism for GEF project proposals. Its membership include the focal points for the 3 environment conventions (CBD, UNFCCC and UNCCD), Agriculture, UNDP, a representative from the NGO community, private sector and the Research establishment. Depending on the nature of the project proposal being reviewed, the committee may co-opt any other member as may be deemed necessary. The Committee’s other role include making information on the GEF available to relevant stakeholders and the general public through sensitization meetings and workshops. Theme 1 National coordination concerning the preparation/implementation of GEF projects. The National GEF Committee plays an important role in the preparation and implementation of GEF projects in The Gambia. The Operational Focal Point, as part of its mandate, makes information about the GEF available to stakeholders. Such information, which is shared among stakeholders, is meant to promote the GEF strategic objectives and foster a greater understanding on the role of the GEF in addressing problems, which are of a global nature. Furthermore, such information is also meant to enhance the general understanding of the GEF procedures and guidelines in order to facilitate effective development of projects for the GEF consideration. The entity seeking for GEF funding takes the lead in the development of projects for GEF consideration. This of course is done in close consultation with the National GEF Committee, which ensures that the proposals conform to GEF procedures and take into consideration The Gambia’s development priorities. (a) The main actors in national coordination concerning the development/implementation of GEF projects.
The GEF constituency in The Gambia include government technical departments in agriculture, forestry, fisheries, wildlife, fisheries, water resources, trade and the environment, NGOs involved in rural development work, Community-Based Organisations engaged in natural resources management and the private sector. As the Operational focal point, the task of coordinating the development of GEF projects as well as their implementation lies with this body. However, as has been earlier outlined earlier in this paper, the Operational Focal Point executes its functions mainly through the GEF National Committee. (b) Processes of national coordination followed.
The coordination mechanism put in place for national coordination of GEF activities is quite participatory and involves the active participation of the relevant stakeholders. The National GEF Committee by design, is kept small in order for it to be efficient and active in its functions. Each GEF-funded project has its own Project Steering Committee (PSC) whose main responsibility is to ensure that the project is on track on terms of meeting its targets and sticking to its objectives. The PAC reports directly to the National GEF Committee and in that way, the latter is continuously kept informed of progress.
The challenges of coordination at the national level. (c) Coordination at the national level remains a major challenge. The issues of coordination centre around manpower shortages and lack of resources. The operational focal in addition to overseeing GEF matters, has other responsibilities as well. This dual functional role for the focal point limits the capacity of the focal point to render more effective services. Support and information needed carry out this task.
Support in the form of finance and logistics are needed in order to greatly improve on coordination. It would be a good idea if a GEF programme and office is established within the NEA and manned by a Programme Officer who would be responsible entirely for coordinating GEF matters in the country. In that way, the present constraints of overburden on the ANR programme can be reduced. Theme 2 Coordination within global environment conventions. (a) The main actors in national coordination concerning CBD, UNFCCC, UNCCD, Stockholm convention on persistent organic pollutants.
The Gambia has adopted a decentralized approach to the implementation of the environmental conventions and agreements. Using this approach, institutions with a mandate for a particular convention h ave been assigned as a focal point. In that regard, The Department responsible for wildlife matters has been designated as the focal point for the Convention on Biological Diversity. Likewise, the Departments of Forestry and Water Resources management have been designated as focal points for the Convention to Combat Desertification and the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change respectively. The focal point for each of the three conventions is responsible for all matters relating to that particular convention. As such, The focal point spearheads the preparation and also oversees the implementation of the convention’s action plan and programme. The NEA is the focal point for the Stockholm convention on persistent organic pollutants. A multi-disciplinary task force comprising of all institutions dealing with persistent organic pollutants performs the Working closely with partner institutions, donors and other development partners, the focal point is also responsible for resource mobilisation for programme implementation. There is a close working relationship with the main central coordinating institution. Under the country’s framework for environmental management, the NEA provides the secretariat for each of the three conventions. Through well-established lines of communications, this arrangement ensures that that follow-ups and recommendations are effectively pursued and implemented.
Challenges of integrating positions and policies developed for purposes of the conventions with activities undertaken with GEF financing.
The biggest challenge faced by way of integrating policies and programmes developed for the conventions with activities undertaken with GEF financing revolve for the most part on the issue of national programmes taking account of the global environment at large. Great strides have been made in developing regional projects to address regional environmental problems. Given the complexities of political and other differences, a lot more needs to be done in this area. The GEF working in collaboration with other international bodies such as WWF, UNESCO, Wetlands international, Ramsar Bureau, ECOWAS etc could do a lot in the area of promoting regional cooperation Theme 3 National coordination concerning GE council matters (a) The main actors in national coordination concerning council matters. A Number of countries have designated 2 focal points for GEF activities: The Political focal point dealing with GEF governance and an Operational Focal Point coordinating GEF projects. In the case of The Gambia, both functions are assumed by one institution namely the NEA. This arrangement however seems to be beset with a number of problems. Information on the activities of council matters are not readily available and this creates an undesirable situation. In this area, the Gambia is looking ahead to learning from those countries with two separate focal points (Operational and Political ) for the matters.