GCF and FAO have signed an agreement for $60 million in funding for two new major projects that will improve climate-resilience in Benin and the Gambia. These cross-cutting mitigation and adaptation projects were approved at the most recent GCF Board meeting in Incheon, South Korea. GCF will provide over USD 35 million in funding for both projects.
Welcoming the projects, GCF Executive Director Yannick Glemarec said: “GCF is proud to partner with FAO on these projects in Benin and Gambia, which will help vulnerable rural communities to increase their resilience to climate change and to protect livelihoods in agriculture and fisheries. The projects will promote gender equality, helping the health, safety and livelihoods of women and girls who are disproportionately affected by climate change.”
FAO Deputy Director-General, Maria Helena Semedo said: “FAO welcomes the approval of these projects to accelerate inclusive climate action in Benin and the Gambia. We look forward to working with our partners to promote green and climate-resilient practices across the agriculture, forestry and fisheries sectors to help move towards more efficient, resilient and sustainable agri-food systems”.
The local food systems of the upper and middle Ouémé Basin in Benin, the main food basket of the country, are highly vulnerable to climate change due to intense and frequent extreme weather events, mainly flash floods and droughts. These extreme climate events impact the productivity of food systems, which result in poverty and food insecurity of the local population.
The Ouémé Basin Climate Resilience Initiative (OCRI) aims to address these climate impacts. The six-year $35 million project will scale-up climate resilient agriculture and low emission agroforestry practices, improve overall land and water management in 95,000 hectares, and reduce over 330,000 small-scale farmers' vulnerability to increasing climate disturbances and extreme weather events. Additionally, the project will contribute to emission reductions of 1,783,633 tCO2eq over 20 years. GCF will provide nearly USD 18.5 million for the project.
Speaking about the project when signing the agreement, GCF Team Leader at FAO, Nadine Valat said: “I want to focus on the impact on communities in the Basin and on the improvements and impact this will have in their lives.”
The fishery sector in Gambia is facing numerous challenges from climate change impacts. Communities across the country rely heavily on the Gambia river for their income, including artisanal fisheries which are the backbone of the livelihoods for vulnerable and rural poor communities.
PROREFISH, the first GCF-funded project with an emphasis on fisheries will support vulnerable and poor fishing communities in building resilience to climate change and in diversifying livelihoods through technology improvements, climate-resilient infrastructure, and diversification of local food systems.
The project will directly and indirectly benefiting a total number of 417,643 beneficiaries which are considered some of the most vulnerable communities and help generate mitigation benefits of 238, 519 tCO2eq over 20 years.
GCF alternate Board member and Deputy Director of the Directorate of Development Planning in the Ministry of Finance Gambia, Isatou F Camara said: “I am here representing the government of the Gambia, but I am also here as a woman representing the hundreds if not thousands of women that would benefit from this project…this project will make a significant difference in the lives and livelihoods of our communities particularly women who make up the majority of the workforce.”
Hailing the partnership agreement, Glemarec said: “We were very pleased to receive this project – we were heavily invested in forests but not as much as we would have wished in sustainable marine and coastal ecosystems. And so, it was a delight to get this project brought forward with the support of FAO.”
Valet added: “We hope this is the first of a series of projects that will focus on fisheries. We all know these communities are so vulnerable to sea level rises…we believe that through the combination of activities, we will improve lives in these communities in Gambia.”
The signing of these agreements will accelerate the rapid implementation of cross-cutting climate-resilience projects for vulnerable rural communities in Benin and the Gambia. The approval of these two projects also highlights the continued significance of the FAO and GCF partnership.