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On October 25 at the Global Environment Facility (GEF) Council meeting, the GEF approved the funding of USD 6.3 million for a regional project co-financed with the African Development Bank (AfDB). Funded by the International Waters (IW) window of the GEF, the project aims to strengthen transboundary cooperation and integrated natural resources management in the Songwe River Basin, shared by the countries of Malawi and Tanzania.
The Songwe River is a valuable local and regional water course that is facing growing pressures by human and climatic stressors, placing both communities and natural habitats within the catchment at risk. Over the past years, the Governments of Malawi, Tanzania and other partners have been progressing with the preparation of the Songwe River Basin Development Program (SRBDP) embedded in the Shared Vision towards 2050, aimed at supporting sustainable economic growth and poverty alleviation in the basin by tapping into its developmental potential and managing the mounting environmental challenges. The SRBDP is growing into a major collective river basin initiative envisioning significant multi-purpose water resources and energy infrastructure, the establishment of a permanent joint river authority, and investments aimed at improving livelihoods and economic growth. The SRBDP’s stated objective is to develop the basin through a comprehensive, integrated, green and inclusive approach.
The GEF IW funds will aim to improve transboundary management of the basin and reduce degradation of the catchment arising from unsustainable natural resources activities. It will build on the interventions of the past years, making a strong contribution to the SRBDP and initiating implementation of the basin’s Shared Vision 2050. The IW project will focus on institutional capacity development of the river basin commission, improvements in water and land conservation practices, and enhanced cooperation and dialogue. “The GEF funding comes at a very timely moment to assist in actuating interim SRBDP objectives and initiating implementation of its strategy” stated Mahamat Assouyouti, AfDB/GEF Coordinator, “The GEF funding seek to establish the foundation of the river basin vision and future investments under the SRBDP. The AfDB will continue support to the two countries for the implementation of the investment plan through resource mobilisation from different sources”.
Specifically, the IW funds will: (i) strengthen institutional capacities and mechanisms for basin planning, monitoring, collective management and transboundary governance; (ii) foster water and land conservation to safeguard water and soil quality while enhancing agricultural productivity, improving livelihoods, and reducing habitat loss; (iii) develop flood management/risk attenuation and monitoring in the basin; (iv) promote institutional development, support and associated capacity building to the basin commission and at district level; and (v) enhance knowledge and learning at all levels.
Since 2007, the partnership between the GEF and the AfDB has been growing fast, working to generate environmentally smart and transformational change in Africa. As of end 2016, the overall portfolio of projects funded by GEF and managed by the AfDB amounts to USD 309 million, leveraging more than USD 2.7 billion in co-financing. Furthermore, this project also contributes to AfDB’s efforts in harnessing the potential of Africa’s many transboundary water resources and enhance the Bank’s water-related interventions to realize aspirations of the Ten Year Strategy.
About the GEF
The Global Environment Facility (GEF) administers two funds for climate change adaptation – the Special Climate Change Fund (SCCF) and the Least Developed Countries Fund (LDCF). Since 2001, the GEF – through the LDCF, the SCCF, and the Strategic Priority on Adaptation program – has provided $1.3 billion in grant financing and mobilized $7 billion from other sources for 320 adaptation projects in 129 countries, including all Least Developed Countries and 33 Small Island Developing States. These projects are expected to directly reduce the vulnerability of 17 million people.
The GEF was established on the eve of the 1992 Rio Earth Summit, to help tackle our planet’s most pressing environmental problems. Since then, the GEF has provided over $14 billion in grants and mobilized in excess of $70 billion in additional financing for more than 4,000 projects. The GEF has become an international partnership of 183 countries, international institutions, civil society organizations, and private sector to address global environmental issues. www.thegef.org