We have worked in over two hundred communities in Nigeria— Olubamishe


Ibironke Olubamishe is the National Coordinator for the UNDP Global Environment Facilities, Small Grant Program in Nigeria.
 She builds capacity for project design, proposal writing, implementation and knowledge management. She also designs and coordinates Monitoring and Evaluation exercises. 
Olubamishe is responsible for strategic planning for partnership building, mentorship and career development, resource mobilization, and advocacy campaigns. She facilitates the appointment and the meetings of the National Steering Committee (Board) of the GEF SGP. 
Over the years, She has designed and facilitated over 27 workshops; and presented over 40 papers at workshops. She coordinated the winning of over 16 national and international awards, including the famous UNDP Equator Award. 
With over 12 years working with the United Nations, and with documented consistent annual high-performance rating, she has been responsible for strategic development and managerial oversight for the UNDP GEF Small Grants Programme (GEF-SGP) Nigeria and the Community Based of the United Nations Programme on Reducing Emission from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (UNREDD). She has reviewed 100s of proposals and coordinated the implementation of over 170 environmental projects in 25 states in Nigeria.

In this interview with webteam in Lagos Ibironke Olubamishe talks about the newly commissioned Climate-Smart Solar Cold/Ice Hub for Sustainable Fisheries in Sagbokoji Island Community, Lagos, Nigeria, the impact of the project on the host community and other sundry issues.
Why did your organisation fund this project in Sagbokoji coastal community?
What we do is support any initiative that is related to the environment, that will either manage the environment or for mitigation of climate change or adaptation projects.
So this community, before now, used charcoal and firewood. And they don’t even get them to preserve their fishes and crayfish and so it was becoming an economic and health issue.
So, when the Nigerian Energy Forum came to our office and submitted a proposal that they wanted to help them we supported them with some amount of money and that is what they have used to build and install this cold room in this community.
What is the actual cost of this project?
The exact amount we gave them is fifty thousand US dollars. But you know that they will have to do other things.
How will this impact the community?
This will impact the community in a lot of ways. Firstly, the use of charcoal will be reduced, the use of firewood will be reduced.
Apart from the fact that they use charcoal and firewood, those things are getting more scarce and expensive for them to use, that is one advantage of it.
Also, their produce does get spoilt if they don’t see either firewood or charcoal to preserve them, then they get rotten, so it impacts them economically. Even if their health is not spared, when they were using charcoal and firewood an elderly woman complained bitterly about the smoke and how it affects their eyes and their health and all that. So, all these things are going to be drastically reduced.
What about the maintenance of the facility?
The good thing about this project is that it uses solar and doesn’t depend on electricity I was speaking to one of the engineers who said it runs entirely on solar, so during the day, they use it and they switch it off during the night, it is so because the cold room would still have its cooling effect until the next day. So it’s a very good sustainable system
Would this be replicated in other riverine areas?
Well, that would be our joy if it can affect the environment and the people’s livelihood positively. But the thing is that it is always demand-driven, we are not the ones that will go there, it is the community that will say they need it. Also, it is not just us coming to the community, it is for the community to accept it. We have gotten to some places where they refused probably because they think it is political. After all, when we come to communities, we tell them that this is not politically motivated or religiously motivated or ethnically motivated. It is for Nigerians.
We work through NGOs but our office is UNDP program so we are the ones that give the money to the NGOs. We partnered with Nigeria Energy Forum NGO.

You talked about going to Niger Delta what project did you do there?
We support all manner of environmental-related projects. There, I went for a climate change conference so we had some of the Niger Delta communities come to the place and tell us of all the woes and challenges they are facing because of oil exploration, pollution of their waters and all that. So we were just trying to see how we can also help them from the community level because of course, the government is doing its own, international communities are doing their own but our concern in their office is that, from the community, what can they do to help themselves and to help the environment?
Was it successful? Did you have any project you did there?
Oh, we have. When I went, I went for a conference but we had a project. I’m supposed to be there next week for another commissioning of another project. It is like a fish pond poultry that we give them also. It’s just a way to adapt to climate changes and their environment that is being polluted so it kinda of creates just a small place for them, a demonstration place for the community where they can grow their fish because they can’t go to their water to go and fish now.
How many Nigerian communities have you worked in?
We have worked in over two hundred communities in Nigeria for around fourteen years now. We have supported over a hundred and seventy projects and we have worked with over a hundred and thirty civil society organisations.
How do you see the Nigerian environment in terms of waste disposal? What would you say we should do to better this?
The first thing is awareness, the second thing is capacity building and then, what I always tell our NGOs is that when you decide to make an impact and you’re truthful, you’re honest about it, sooner or later, people will join you and you will get support, as the case may be. So, for Nigeria especially, and in our communities. Firstly, poverty is another issue but if they are aware of what they are doing, for instance, apart from what we have come to do here now, I heard that the women leader just passed on, so also one of their youth. Many of them, don’t take care of their health so with any opportunity I have, I just enlighten them in a little way, I have told them that it is important for them to have collection points for their waste and this waste can be reused, that is the good thing about them it can be reused in one way or the other but if they are now aware and they know that, oh, nylon should be kept here, bottles should be kept here, plastics should be kept here and then they can reuse it or reduce it or recycle it in a way as much as possible.

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