Future mangrove project funding to be tied to EU indicators

European Union (EU) funding for the Guyana Mangrove Restoration Project (GMRP) under the 11th European Development Fund will hinge on government’s ability to meet indicators.

So says EU Cooperation Officer Susana Fernandez-Rodriguez, who told Stabroek News that the EU was making strides to ensure that achieving indicators becomes the norm when funding was channelled through budget support.

According to Fernandez-Rodriguez, the EU would be formulating various indicators under the 11th EDF—which will cover the period 2014 to 2020—that the Guyana government would have to hit in order to receive full funding for not only the GMRP but sea defences as a whole, including incorporating gender diversity and more community-based initiatives aimed at sustainability. “If the government doesn’t put money where the indicators are and we don’t get those indicators to be followed up on then we won’t pay,” she said.

She added that it was about accountability and that while budget support reduced the bureaucracy that was prevalent in project-based funding, it was not without its own problems.

Fernandez-Rodriguez explained that in relation to the $1 billion GMRP, it was a new concept and the results have shown progression from the inception in 2010 to 2013, the final year. She noted that having indicators with project-based funding could create more bureaucracy, which in the long run would waste money, time and resources. Instead, she said holding the government accountable by having it meet indicators had more impact and would be far more pertinent in the changing of policy, which would lead to the achieving of indicators.

“Budget support means that the government has the responsibility for the project… so, when public policy is clear, like strategic plans are in place, things progress smoothly,” she said. “Through public policy, you get public support and that is what we want…we have had a time to sensitise the community to the mangroves and the mosquitoes,” she added, while noting that for many persons the changing coastline had to demonstrate a change in mentality in the communities.

The EU Officer told Stabroek News that the GMRP had to work tirelessly to showcase that “this project was not a bad thing to livelihoods.” Fernandez-Rodriguez noted that the Climate Change Alliance would also be incorporated into the future of project funding. She said that changing the perception of the impact of climate change at the community-based level would result in a reverse percolation that would be beneficial when there was strict public policy.

She mentioned that women’s issues and the impacts of climate change were already being worked into indicators conducive for the 11th EDF as well as the establishment of small enterprises.
EU Ambassador Robert Kopecky stated that he was pleased with the GMRP, while noting that the results could have been better. The project, which was supposed to have restored 11 kilometres of mangroves, saw a little over 5 kilometres completed in the three years. Kopecky noted that the EU’s support for sea defences in Guyana would continue until 2020 guaranteed, but did note that there would be changes to how funding is given through budget support.

He said that he believed that through trial and error budget support has proven the best way to disburse funding and that indicators were the next step in ensuring that money is spent in the best areas. He noted that when the GMRP began, it was all experimental and as a result the 11th EDF would provide more in terms of hitting bench marks.

In June, Kopecky had signaled that the EU would take a similar approach to funding for the sugar industry with the 2012 Financing Agreement for the Guyana Annual Action Programme on Accompanying Measures for Sugar Protocol Countries worth over $6.3 billion.

Kopecky had said that the annual allotment was “subject to a screening revision and there will be an evaluation…the availability is €23.5 million the reality can be 80 percent less.” He told Stabroek News that one of the most crucial industry requirements was that the Guyana Sugar Corporation had to adequately prepare a certain percentage of land for mechanisation conversion. He stated that the EU wanted to provide Guyana with the full sum of the annual agreement, but that the industry had to make changes and if those changes weren’t made the money would not be handed over.

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