The two projects are "Scaling up a Multiple Benefits Approach to Enhance Resilience in Agro- and Forest Landscapes of Mali’s Sahel Regions" in Mali and "Sustainable Forest Management and Conservation Project in Central and South Benin" in Benin. The projects comprise new funding for US$8.6mn (Mali) and US$2.6mn (Benin) with a total AfDB co-financing of US$78.8mn.
The GEF CEO Naoko Ishii said that the projects focused on the “poorest and most vulnerable”, particularly Least Developed Countries (LDCs). Mali and Benin are both LDCs and the projects are aimed at improving land and forest management to promote sustainable, resilient and healthy agro- and forest ecosystems.
The Mali project aims to promote food security and multiple environmental benefits through a landscape approach. The project is considered very innovative in its design given it is based on the land degradation and sustainable forest management focal areas while also integrating climate change mitigation and chemicals and waste aspects, connecting interrelated problems for local communities within the full rural landscape.
The GEF intervention emphasizes the need to enhance resilience and is based on activities to promote integrated landscape planning and management, investments in protecting the health of landscapes and enhancing productivity, and better learning. Its integrated nature will help produce multiple global and local environmental benefits in addition to improved food security and health.
The project in Benin will promote socially and environmentally sustainable forest management by improving forest and land management in target areas of the country as a way to preserve forest cover and biodiversity. The project focuses on the forests of Mont Kouffe and Wari-Maro which constitute some the country’s most important areas for species abundance and diversity. The deforestation rate in Benin is very high (2.5%) and agriculture is a key driver of forest degradation as well as the primary form of economic activity.
The GEF project will improve the management effectiveness of new protected areas, develop local capacities in sustainable forest management, and support alternative livelihoods away from unsustainable agricultural practices. In addition, it will enhance carbon stocks and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.