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Small Grants from GEF Go a Long Way for Bali Communities

{short description of image} Trees planted in buffer zone between community and the forest   Sumber Klampok, BALI, Indonesia— Past the terraced rice paddies and into the forest in the northwest corner of Bali, lies the village of Sumber Klampok, an unpretentious assortment of homes and fields that, until recently, many people wished was not there.

Nestled in the newly created Bali Barat National Park, the villagers were seen as a danger to the forest and an obstruction to the development of ecotourism in the area. The authorities let the residents know that they should leave.

But today Sumber Klampok, home to 600 households, is officially recognized as a village within the park, the result of community action that coalesced around the efforts of young people who wanted to protect the surrounding environment. That effort received a boost from the GEF Small Grants Programme, that has allow the villagers to map and demarcate their lands as well as to initiate organic farming ventures and projects to help protect local bird species.

On a recent trip sponsored by the programme, which is implemented by the United Nations Development Programme, to the village during the recent preparatory meeting for the World Summit on Sustainable Development, the villagers turned out in force to greet the visitors with music, dance, and a welcoming ceremony.

"We would like to produce something that can be sustained," village leader Made Nuyatha told the visitors, noting that there the village has already accomplished a lot, such as in the production of organic foods, compost and natural pesticides.

According to the local farmers, organic farming has brought benefits, albeit slowly. The corn and the rice, they say, are very sweet and fetch higher prices for the well-to-do in Jakarta, but the farmers note that they receive far less of the profits than the traders. However, the farmers say they benefit from weaning themselves away from expensive pesticides and fertilizers.

With the help of the project, the villagers have also been instrumental in protecting the Bali Starlings, an endemic species that faced extinction after it was over-zealously sought out a prized status symbol pet. The starling numbers dwindled to as few as 60 birds, but with the help of the breeding in captivity programme supported by Small Grants Programme, they now number several hundred.

The GEF Small Grants Programme, operational since 1992, has provided about $120 million to non-governmental organizations and community groups in 63 developing countries to promote grassroot efforts to protect and conserve the environment while generating sustainable livelihood opportunities. One of the most successful efforts to implement sustainable development, the programme has benefited over 4,000 through more than 3,100 projects with grants that have, on average, amounted to about $20,000. The Small Grants Programme supplements the larger projects funded by the GEF, or Global Environment Facility.

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24 August 2006