ST JOHN’S, Antigua – Community groups and NGOs now have available a source of funding for selected projects, since Antigua & Barbuda received an allocation of US $1 million over a four-year period from the UNDP National Small Grants Programme (GEF).
Antigua & Barbuda is a member of the GEF, which acts as the financial mechanism for UN environmental treaties. This independent financial organisation provides grants to developing countries for environmental projects related to biodiversity, climate change, international waters, land degradation, the ozone layer and persistent organic pollutants.
A small team from two UN agencies including Delfin Ganapin, based in the United Nations Office of Project Services, and Angelica Shamerina, regional focal point of the United Nations Development Programme, conducted a week-long series of consultations during April 10-13 with members of the private and public sector, as well as NGOs and community groups. This culminated in the country establishing its own small grants programme (SGP)
Minister of Agriculture, Lands, Housing and the Environment Hilson Baptiste welcomed the assessment and expressed his desire to see the relationship between community groups and the public sector strengthened.
The minister foresees the government’s role as one that provides technical guidance to ensure the sustainability of potential environmental projects.
Sandals Grande Resort and the Antigua & Barbuda Development Bank have demonstrated willingness to partner with the programme and provide both financial and technical support to build the capacity of community groups to access the SGP funds.
Allocation will be disbursed to community groups and NGOs for environmental projects in small grants not exceeding US $50,000. In cases where there may be multiple community groups involved in a project proposal, an amount of US $150,000 can be made available.
A call for community environmental projects, a release said, will be issued at a later date upon the establishment of National SGP Co-ordinator and a National Steering Committee that will be responsible for vetting project proposals. Recruitment of a UN National SGP Co-ordinator will be advertised shortly.
The SGP was previously coordinated at a regional level with limited funds being available at the national level.
However, this new mission to establish a country-level program results in more funds being available nationally to address environmental challenges within communities.