By Naabenyin Joojo Amissah .
The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), through the Global Environment Facility Small Grants Programme (GEF), has awarded about $200,000 grants to five Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) in Ghana.
The grants are meant to implement various projects towards the elimination of mercury in gold mining and the promotion of sustainable artisanal and small-scale mining in Ghana.
The beneficiaries are, Tuning Point of Advocacy, Moaduri Women Development Projects, Ghana Institute of Sustainable Development, Zintang Healers Association, and Firm Health Ghana Foundation.
The Assistant Resident Representative of UNDP Ghana, Mr. Louis Kuukpen, at the ceremony, held in Accra, emphasised the Country Office’s commitment to supporting Ghana in the formalisation of the artisanal and small-scale mining sector.
The support, he said, include training, technology transfer and knowledge management to promote mining without mercury in the artisanal and small-scale mining sector. Mr. Kuukpen added that the UNDP, through the Global Environment Facility Small Grants Programme, was piloting the ‘Zero Mercury programme’ to support the government’s new policy framework to regularise and reform mining activities in the country.
He urged the beneficiary CSOs to work with the government institutions in executing their projects for greater impact. “We congratulate the new grantees and trust that they will work closely with the Inter-Ministerial Committee on small- scale mining, the Minerals Commission, the Environmental Protection Agency, and the relevant District Assemblies to ensure synergies and linkages between the national programmes and our projects,” Mr. Kuukpen said.
The Chief Executive Officer of Turning Point of Advocacy, Dr. Naa Dedei Tagoe, on behalf of the awardees, expressed gratitude to UNDP and GEF for the opportunity, and promised to put the grants into efficient use to benefit the society.“We will put the resources into judicious use to improve the sector where miners will work sustainably and the government wouldn’t have to put a ban on small scale mining,” stated Dr Tagoe.
In his address, the National Programme Coordinator, Dr. George Ortsin, indicated that the competition this year was very keen, as over 65 applications were received. The selected projects were based on innovative ideas and technologies that would be introduced, in line with the national priorities and the geographical importance.
The UNDP GEF Small Grant Programme has been providing financial support to local communities to invest in environmental management over the past four years, and has so far supported 33 community-based organisations within the Coastal and Northern Savanna ecosystems with an amount of US$2.61 million grants.
The programme has also built the capacities of over 1,500 community members to mainstream biodiversity conservation in natural resource management, which has impacted positively on the conservation of environmental resources in the country. The next UNDP GEF small grants will be awarded in July this year to support more local communities to invest in environmental management.
The intervention is to support the country towards the implementation of the Minamata Convention, which Ghana ratified on March 3, 2017, to protect human health and the environment from anthropogenic emissions and the release of mercury compounds.