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EPA nets US$8.9m for Sinoe coastal defense

The Government of Liberia through the Environment Protection Agency with support from the United Nations Development Programme has secured US$8.9 million for a coastal resilient project that would benefit 80,000 residents in Sinoe County, southeast Liberia.

The project includes building climate resilient livelihoods, protecting communities from sea level rise and other life-threatening climate change impacts A press statement from the EPA says the Global Environment Facility (GEF) approved Wednesday, June 3, US$8.9 million in new grant funding from the Least Developed Countries Fund (LDCF) for the coastal resilience project that would also rehabilitate 20,000 hectares of degraded coastal habitats.

The seven-year project brings together co-financing and support from a number of sources. The United States Agency for International Development will provide US$28 million in co-finance, while the World Bank will provide US$15 million, and Conservation International will provide US$500,000 of in-kind contributions through ongoing work in Liberia and West Africa. It also builds on earlier and ongoing projects funded by the GEF and the Green Climate Fund.

“Climate change is undermining our goals to build peace and prosperity for our people. Taken together with other actions, this innovative project protects vulnerable coastal residents from sea-level rise and supports our global vision to end hunger and poverty by 2030,” said EPA Executive Director, Randall Dobayou.

An estimated 64 percent Liberians live below the poverty line, with 1.3 million living in extreme poverty. Food insecurity affects four out of 10 people, and chronic malnutrition is high. The Ebola Virus and COVID-19 pandemic have put even more Liberians at risk.

The economy is still unable to generate sufficient employment, especially for young people. More than half of Liberia’s 4 million people live within 40 miles of the coast, putting extensive pressure on coastal ecosystems for food, land, mineral extraction, and other resources, resulting to habitat loss and degradation, says the statement.

“The project works toward transformational change by moving away from a ‘business-as-usual’ model to an integrated approach that combines nature-based interventions, hard infrastructure, gender-responsive approaches, capacity, policy, engagement with the financial services sector, knowledge and information and observational management systems,” notes UNDP Resident Representative Pa LaminBeyai.

In supporting climate resilient livelihoods, gender equality, decent work and economic growth, and responsible consumption and production as outlined in the SDGs, the project supports business development and training programmes for 70,000 beneficiaries, with targeted approaches for women and youth. It also targets 30,000 beneficiaries who will benefit from integrated farming systems, fisheries and compressed stabilized ‘earth blocks’ and their value chains.

The project enhances coastal resilience to storms, coastal erosion and flooding risks while supporting a range of ecosystem service benefits that improve livelihood security and overall climate resilience. These supports will benefit other coastal counties around the country in sea and river defence risk management as well as support climate adaptation livelihood opportunities.

The Global Environment Facility (GEF) was established on the eve of the 1992 Rio Earth Summit in Brazil to help tackle the planet’s most pressing environmental problems. Since then, the GEF has provided close to $20.5 billion in grants and mobilized an additional $112 billion in co-financing for more than 4,800 projects in 170 countries. Through its Small Grants Programme, the GEF has provided support to nearly 24,000 civil society and community initiatives in 133 countries.

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