PETALING JAYA: Sabah is one of the most active in terms of NGOs' community participation, and relatively more successful in winning the Global Environment Facility-Small Grants Programme (GEF-SGP) grants.
The GEF-SGP is funded by the Global Environment Facility (GEF), implemented by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and executed by the United Nations Office for Project Services (UNOPS).
UKM Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research & Innovation), Prof. Dato' Dr Mazlin Mokhtar, made the observation based on his assessment when met at the recent National GEF-SGP Seminar cum SGP Grants Award Ceremony, here.
A member of the National Steering Committee (NSC), he said many applications for SGP grants came from all over the country.
"To be successful, one must adhere to the guidelines provided by GEF-SGP. For some reason, Sabah NGOs (non-governmental organisations) and CBOs (community-based organisations) are successful in their applications.
"Sarawak is also very active in community participation but we can see Sabah very prominently. Sarawak is there and others states in Malaysia are also there under the GEF-SGP initiative," he told Daily Express. Prof. Dr Mazlin knows Sabah like the back of his hand, having spent about eight years living with the communities during the days of UKM Sabah Campus. What makes the Sabah NGOs successful in applying for SGP grants?
"For some reason," said Prof. "I reckon it is due to the nature of their SGP projects. Sabah is a beautiful state with plenty of natural resources."
At this juncture, he noted that Sabah has been quite advanced compared with some other states in Malaysia "in terms of conservation efforts."
"I have been observing that. The State shifted away from traditional logging as its main revenue-earner to generating income from tourism, ecotourism in particular. We must work together to protect the state in ensuring an improved quality of life for the next generation."
Prof. Dr Mazlin advocates collaboration with universities too, saying these institutions have some money for research.
"We have young people in the universities and we need to tell them that we must be better prepared together with the community to face the challenges of the future.
"Be forward-looking in our vision of the future. If we can prepare for the future 50 years ahead, so much the better," he enthused.
From the Professor's observation, some of the more successful community-based organisations (CBOs), non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and villagers' associations have already linked up with some universities.
"I like this…some have collaboration with certain professors or experts at the university level or student societies of universities," he said. "More such cooperation is what we would like to encourage."
In this regard, Prof. Dr Mazlin advised prospective SGP grantees to consider collaboration with universities of their choice when they prepare their SGP project proposals.
"Just look out, who is the nearest university you can link up with. Universities are keen to do community-based projects. They want students to know the real problems faced by the community.
"That will be much more meaningful to the students, rather than simply being theoretical," he reasoned. "When they mingle with the community and understand the real problems on the ground, they will become better persons and serve the community better."
He subscribes to the idea of complementing the Government's efforts in helping communities whose livelihood is threatened, for example.
"To me, this is a golden opportunity. Universities have been carrying out research for decades since their establishment but let me throw them an extra challenge this time around – why not give greater emphasis on research which brings positive impact to the community and stakeholders?"
Noting that SGP grants are given only to grassroots organisations, and not to universities and government agencies, Prof Dr Mazlin suggested that the CBOs concerned indicate their partners when writing their project proposals for funding.
"They must show they are working with as many other stakeholders as possible. When stakeholders from different disciplines come together, it's about trying to address the issue of sustainable development and find sustainable solutions to problems affecting communities or the environment," he clarified.
Meanwhile, National Coordinator for GEF-SGP Malaysia, David Lee released the list of grantees, their SGP projects and status in Sabah under Operational Phase 5 (OP5).
He said the implementation of SGP Malaysia is governed by the National Steering Committee (NSC) which is the central element of the country SGP. The NSC is chaired by the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment (NRE) and the members comprise representatives from local NGOs, the government, academia, The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the private sector and the media.
"As the National Coordinator, I work with NSC in reaching out to the NGO community and community-based organisations (CBOs) to inform them of the availability of grants. At the same time, I receive and screen project proposals," he said.
A. Completed projects: Strengthening Community-Based Initiatives in Addressing Climate Change, Resource Management and Biodiversity Protection for Upper Moyog River Area by The Registered Trustees of Pacos Trust; Sabah Biocultural Law Project: Using Community Protocols to develop a Bottom-up Approach to ABS and other Environmental Laws and Policies by BC Initiative Sdn Bhd; Improving Livelihoods through Education and Coral Reef Conservation to Encourage Sustainable Behaviour Change by Reef Check Malaysia Bhd; Community Abai Project: Forest Restoration and Ecotourism by LEAP Spiral; Community-based Micro Hydro for Rural Electrification in Ulu Papar by Tobpinai Ningkokoton koBUruon kampong (Tonibung); Conservation of Moyog River (Kg Tagad, Mahandoi, Kuai-Kadazon, Terawi, Digot, Suok and Kodundungan) by Community-led Environmental Awareness for Our River (CLEAR);
B. Ongoing project: Community-based Initiative on Avoiding Soil Degradation in Kg Tampasak, Kg Timpangoh and Kg Babagon, Penampang by TAmpasak TimpAngoh BAbagon Tumoku; Hutan Winokok & Biobudaya Conservation in Bundu Tuhan, Ranau by the Bundu Tuhan Native Residential Reserve Trustees Committee; Engaging the Local Indigenous Community of Pulau Mantanani to Sustainably Manage their Limited Groundwater Resources; Building Community Capacity, Knowledge and Leadership in three villages at Tiong, Tamparuli through Alternative and Integrated socio-economic development to address the Issue of Climate Change and Soil Erosion by Persatuan Usahasama Kg Gabungan Tiga Tiong, Tamparuli; Strengthening the Position of Community Forest Reserve and Water Catchment of Kg Kiau, Kota Belud, based on the Culture of Customs, Traditions and C by Pertubuhan Masyarakat Kg KiauNuluh, Kota Belud (GOMPITO); Raising Awareness of the Local Community to the Plight of the Sea Turtle Population of the Kudat Area by Kudat Turtle Conservation Society (KTCS); The Development of Environmental and Conservation of Education Programme at Bornean Sun Bear Conservation Centre (BSBCC) by Bornean Sun Bear Conservation Centre Sdn Bhd (BSBCC).
C. Mock Cheque Presentation to Grantees: Community-based Resource Management and Conservation of Marine Biodiversity in the Proposed Tun Mustapha Park, Sabah by World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) Malaysia; Promoting an Ecosystem-based Approach to Fisheries via Turtle Excluder Devices in Malaysia by The Registered Trustees of The Marine Research Foundation (MRF);SWEPA Barefoot Solar Project Borneo (Kota Marudu) by the Sabah Women Entrepreneurs & Professionals Association (SWEPA); and Promoting Reef Recovery to Mitigate Impact of Climate Change on Coral Reefs by Tropical Research and Conservation Centre (TRACC).
CAPTION: Sabah's participants (past and present SGP grantees) at the National GEF-SGP Seminar 2014 in Petaling Jaya. Seated at extreme left (middle row) is National Coordinator for GEF-SGP Malaysia, David Lee.
Source: Daily Express - http://www.dailyexpress.com.my/news.cfm?NewsID=94417