Over 600 seed kits for establishing home gardens, have been delivered to community groups across the country by the Global Environment Facility Small Grants Programme (GEF SGP) administered by UNDP, as part of its effort to support communities during the Covid-19 pandemic, with seeds also provided by The University of the West Indies seed bank.
The initiative followed a survey of community organisations in which food and seedlings for growing food at home were identified as urgent needs. The kits contain a variety of seed types including celery, pimento, beets, pakchoi, cabbage, cauliflower, ochro, melongene and cucumber. They were delivered to 12 communities across the country including in Arima, Brasso Seco, Grande Riviere, Siparia, La Savanne, Felicity, Moruga, Castara, Charlotteville and Port of Spain. Bottles of soap as well as washable, reusable masks were also distributed.
GEF SGP will also be working with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and other partners to expand this initial distribution into a nation-wide, Grow-Garden initiative, with a special focus on vulnerable communities that have been disproportionately affected by the food security challenges raised by COVID-19. Targeted groups, which will include at-risk youth, single mothers and low-income households, will be supported in developing new skills, employment opportunities, food security and improved family nutrition.
According to Dr. Sharda Mahabir, National Coordinator GEF SGP: “We remain committed to developing community resilience and supporting holistic and sustainable projects that bring benefit to community and country. Our intention is that on completion, this GEF SGP project and the upcoming wider national initiative will have supported some of the most vulnerable groups in our communities and increased appreciation for agriculture as a psycho-social tool, as well as a means of food security and resilience. In the long-term, we hope to improve the perception of, and participation in, this important sector.”
About GEF SGP
The GEF Small Grants Programme provides financial and technical support to non-profit organisations to help conserve and restore the environment, enhancing people's well-being and livelihoods and building community resilience to withstand disaster. Launched in 1992, the year of the Rio Earth Summit, the GEF SGP is implemented by UNDP on behalf of the GEF partnership.
The Program is specifically designed to mobilize bottom-up actions by empowering local civil society organizations, and poor and vulnerable communities, including women and Indigenous Peoples. It believes that community-driven and civil society-led initiatives can generate environmental benefits, while supporting sustainable livelihoods, gender equality and civil society empowerment. The programme supports projects dealing with Biodiversity; Climate Change Mitigation and Adaptation; Land Degradation and Sustainable Forest Management; and International Waters and Chemicals.