Michael Stanley-Jones
Michael Stanley-Jones
Topic: How caring well for the environment and natural resources can help lift communities out of poverty
Michael Stanley-Jones serves as Programme Officer responsible for communications, knowledge management and outreach with the UNDP−UNEP Poverty−Environment Initiative based in Nairobi. I te...
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Number of questions: [1]
Posted on 30/10/2014 17:08:58

My question: what channel or medium the UNEP intend to use to lift poverty in community?

Also, how UNEP intend to break domestic barriers to make their goals visible and applicable at community level?
Hassan Koroma (from Seychelles)
The Poverty-Environment Initiative of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) supports country-led efforts that demonstrate how caring well for the environment and natural resources can help lift communities out of poverty. We work at national, sub-national and local level on development planning, from policymaking to budgeting, implementation and monitoring, using sets of tools which support managing the environment in a way that improves livelihoods and leads to sustainable growth.

For example, in Lao Peoples Democratic Republic (Lao PDR), the Poverty-Environment programme helps ensure that the countrys rapid economic growth and flow of foreign direct investments into the natural resource sectors generate sustainable and inclusive development. A new model contract channels foreign investments into local job creation, while raising environmental standards and alleviating poverty.

Lao PDR has developed new legal tools that help vulnerable groups address their needs. The Lao PDR National Assemblys hotline is now inundated with calls regarding land rights and compensation. For the first time, mid-level planning officers are equipped with legal tools for responding to those appeals. Environmental and Social Impact Assessments have been institutionalized by the Government and are being conducted more systematically. This has resulted in the monitoring of 287 projects in 17 districts in 6 provinces across Lao PDR.

In the Gicumbi District of Northern Rwanda, with the help of the Poverty-Environment Initiative, the Rwanda Environment Management Authority (REMA) launched the Rubaya Village Demonstration Project in 2011. This area was considered to be among the most environmentally fragile parts of Rwanda. The poverty challenges faced by the population in this area before the demonstration project included:

1) Over-cultivation of land for agriculture and inadequate soil conservation leading to low and declining productivity;
2) Destruction of wetlands;
3) Fading size of arable and pasture land, resulting in low agricultural and livestock production;
4) Inadequate application of integrate land and soil management techniques, including low practice of agro-forestry; and
5) Absence of water harvesting measures and low application of irrigated agriculture; and 6) Inadequate opportunities for income generation.

Today the village is home to 43 families, a total of 196 people. Each family received a house comprising all the necessary facilities, and a high breed Holstein-Friesian cow to provide for milk. Fifteen water reservoirs have been constructed to recuperate running water from heavy rains seasons, which characterize the area, to be used by the villagers for irrigation. Water harvesting tanks have been constructed to recuperate and clean rain water, and bring clean water to the villagers and people from the area.

Rubaya villagers have been trained on using the 43 cows dung in producing biogas energy, which is used by them for cooking. The waste from biogas digesters and households is then used to produce fertilizers. The village has also been provided with solar energy for households lighting needs. The village also has a women-led Cooperative called Imparirwagusumbwa which manages the operations of the biogas digesters, water tanks and the selling of the extra milk from the cows on the market.

The new sources of water and energy have freed women and girls from having to hand carry supplies, giving them more time to educate themselves. They also have gained new confidence and pride in themselves from the success they experience in their green village.

The Poverty-Environment Initiative also works to reform national development plans so they serve better the needs of the poor. In Thailands Nan province, the Provincial Administration has been supported to better manage corn-based livestock farming through investments in watershed management and more secure land tenure. A Geographical Information System Centre, co-funded jointly by Nan province and Poverty-Environment Initiative, was established to serve local communities with community land surveys and mapping to better advocate for community land entitlement issues.

These are some of the ways the Poverty-Environment Initiative is able to extend its assistance from the national to the community level, to help those who are most vulnerable in todays economy.