Eritrea steps up efforts to safeguard natural resources

National Greening Day, Eritrea

“The Government of Eritrea is currently making great strides to tackle food insecurity and advance economic growth by stepping-up efforts to sustainably manage the country’s natural resources. Addressing land degradation is increasingly recognized as a national priority”

By The Global Mechanism

The Government of Eritrea is currently making great strides to tackle food insecurity and advance economic growth by stepping-up efforts to sustainably manage the country’s natural resources. Addressing land degradation is increasingly recognized as a national priority, with the country recently having made a strong commitment to increase investments into sustainable land management (SLM).

On 15 May 2013, the Ministry of Agriculture held the eighth edition of the country’s National Greening Day, an annual event bringing together national ministries and a wide range of local authorities to discuss the current state of natural resource management and assess the progress made. Community-level activities were also showcased to advance efforts to manage the country’s natural resources.

Opening the day, the Minister of Agriculture of Eritrea, H.E. Arefaine Behre said that, if the country wants to achieve sustainable management of natural resources: “upscaling best practices and adopting an integrated approach has to be the mantra: next year we want to gather again knowing that we are winning our fight against deforestation and land degradation.” As examples of simple but effective incentives encouraging land users to take up SLM practices, certificates, solar lanterns and monetary prizes were awarded to some 70 successful ‘green’ activities carried out by farmers, students and women, either individually or organized at the community level. Such activities included the launching of tree nurseries, green clubs, water conservation initiatives, as well as the implementation of improved mogogo stoves and the establishment of enclosures.

As a timely response to the Minister of Agriculture’s call for scaling up, the official validation of the Integrated Financing Strategy (IFS) for SLM in Eritrea took place only days after the National Greening Day on 22 May 2013. The IFS was discussed and validated in the presence of representatives from various national ministries and multilateral organizations, such as the UN Development Programme and the Food and Agriculture Organization. Clear targets were set out by the partners to significantly boost investments into the country’s fight to address land degradation through the IFS.

The IFS, which was designed with the support of the Global Mechanism (GM) of the UN Convention to Combat Desertification, aims to provide guidance to locate, secure and mobilize financial resources for SLM in Eritrea, with the overall objective of improving food security and enhancing rural livelihoods throughout the country. “There is no chance of food security if we do not manage natural resources responsibly. Community mobilization has led to very satisfactory results. Now we need to go further and ensure proper institutional arrangements and financial mobilization, as well as continued capacity-building,” said Dr. Seife Behre, who conducted the stocktaking analysis and produced the IFS document.

The Strategy contains an Action Plan and an integrated investment framework, which outline the best opportunities to increase financial resources into SLM with a focus on innovative financing opportunities. Investment priorities are also indicated, in the form of concrete projects promoting the sustainable management of land and natural resources, and the use of renewable sources of energy.

A key challenge for Eritrea will be to increase the availability and diversity of financing in order to scale-up activities and achieve a bigger impact: “Ensuring SLM, involves many sectors and needs finance. Eritrea decided to adopt an IFS to ensure an efficient use of the financial resources already available and to increase investments in SLM compatible activities.” said Siv Øystese, Coordinator of the Economic Instruments and Innovative Finance Programme of the GM during the IFS validation workshop.

Next steps to implement the IFS will start with the establishment of solid institutional arrangements and the enhancement of an existing SLM Platform charged with coordinating institutional efforts, mobilizing resources and evaluating results. Further capacity-building will also be provided, both for institutions and communities, while success stories will continue to be widely disseminated to raise further awareness of the long-term benefits of SLM, such as food security, economic development and the improvement of rural livelihoods.

Ms Siv Øystese, Coordinator, Economic Instruments and Innovative Finance
Tel. +39 06 5459 2782

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