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GEF SGP—eager to help CBOs and NGOs

Thursday, August 2, 2012
Cleaning up the Mess

This week in Guardian Media’s environmental space, the Global Environment Facility’s (GEF) Small Grants Programme (SGP) continues its exclusive series for the Cleaning Up The Mess titled Helping Civil Society Groups Make a Difference in their Environment.


Dr Nesha Beharry-Borg, GEF SGP national programme co-ordinator is committed to pushing for greater awareness of SGP among CBOs. “The SGP has been around for 17 years, there has been a lot of good work happening but a lot of it is not in the public domain, so a lot of community groups and NGOs still don’t know about the fund,” says Beharry-Borg. And this is reason for concern. Over the last two years, while the GEF SGP allocation for Trinidad and Tobago has increased, the number of grant applications has not.


Like UN resident co-ordinator and UNDP resident representative to Trinidad and Tobago, Suriname, Aruba, Curaçao and Sint Maarten Dr Marcia de Castro, Beharry-Borg also sees capacity building for prospective and successful grantees as a critical issue. She says, “There are a lot of lessons that groups can learn from previous grantees that have not been disseminated. We’re also seeing a need for capacity development in monitoring and evaluation so organisations can define how they will measure project success and what data they will collect throughout the life of the project to ensure it is on track.”


 To address these issues, Trinidad and Tobago’s 2011-2014 GEF SGP Country Programme Strategy (CPS) places greater emphasis on raising awareness of the programme, building the capacity of grantees and increasing the monitoring and evaluation of all projects to capture and share lessons learnt.


“Given what we were seeing on the ground, we lobbied and received approval to have a percentage of a grantee’s funding allocated for building capacity in designing and implementing projects,” says Grace Talma, chairman of the National GEF SGP Steering Committee. “So we’re building a group’s capacity the moment we recognise that ‘hey, this project idea has potential.’ We work with them on getting the design right, getting the proposal right, then we work with them on the basics of project management and reporting.”


According to Talma, team development and conflict management training are also provided to improve a group’s effectiveness as a project team. “While this is something we did with grantees as the need arose, we felt the need to formalise the training and coaching provided in this area. We’ve also partnered grantees with professionals who have volunteered to mentor a CBO or NGO for a period of time and have engaged management-support NGOs, such as Veni Apwann and Asclepius Green, to work with grantees in documenting their challenges and lessons learnt.”


The St James Empowerment Foundation is one such community group that was successful in its application for GEF SGP grant funding and Glenda Gonzales credits the work of GEF SGP staffers in guiding them to improve their proposal and project design. The work of this group and other SGP grantees will be featured over the next few months in this space. We’ll highlight their best practices and share their advice to community groups interested in protecting their environment.


The development of an institutional framework for sustainable development was extensively discussed at the recently concluded Earth Summit 2012, Rio+20. Here in T&T, through the work of civil-society organisations, government, private corporations and the GEF SGP, a powerful opportunity exists to truly integrate the economic, social and environmental dimensions of sustainable development where it happens and matters most—on the ground.


For further information on applying for GEF SGP grants please visit:
Applicants can contact us via e-mail at [email protected] or call on 623-7056 ext 252.
If your company or professional association is interested in partnering with the UNDP to mentor or coach grantees of the GEF SGP, please call 623-7056 ext 252
 If you wish to contribute to this guest series, send in your ideas to Ira Mathur at [email protected] or [email protected] and join our Facebook page on


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