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Creating “Ecovillages” in Rural Senegal – an Innovative Effort to Generate Multiple Environmental Benefits

French Version


Dakar, Senegal, July 6, 2011 - Today at a signing ceremony with the Senegalese Minister of Environment, the CEO of the Global Environment Facility, Monique Barbut has launched “Ecovillages”, an innovative project to address adverse climate change effects and protect Biodiversity in rural Senegal. This project of $16 million has been developed by the Government of Senegal together with the United Nations Development Programme and will be implemented by the national agency in charge of Ecovillages.

The Ecovillage Project involves 14 national and international partners both from the public and private sector. The key to its success however will be the empowerment of the local communities through a participatory spatial planning approach. Under this project, villagers will map zones for agriculture, breeding, reforestation, and biodiversity protection, and will implement various approaches and technologies to develop a low carbon economy (improved stoves, solar energy, biofuel, etc). Local communities will be trained to ensure a community based monitoring system. Controlling energy consumption reduces economic pressure on the community and benefits ecosystems at the local and global level by reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

With the Ecovillages concept we will be testing what we believe to be an innovative effort here in Senegal to help the rural poor develop and invest in new and sustainable forms of energy supply, more efficient energy use and improved livelihoods and income generation,” said Monique Barbut, CEO and Chairperson of the GEF at the signing ceremony in Dakar. “Among the ideas we hope to encourage are building a market for agro-fuels like Jatropha and supporting solar energy for decentralized electricity supply to rural areas not currently connected to the grid. Boosting village-based, home-grown energy production industries contributes to the fight against poverty and may, over time, be a lasting solution.

Quote by Minister, Senegal
Placeholder: “Generally, it is a contribution from the government of Senegal to the efforts made in the world to reduce greenhouse gases and a national tool for adaptation to adverse effects of climate change,” said Babacar Ndao, the Senegalese Minister of Eco-Villages, retention basins, artificial lakes and fish breeding.


Project Background

Most rural villages in Senegal are extremely poor and struggle to break out of a cycle of poverty, emigration of young people seeking better lives elsewhere and unsustainable use of natural resources and energy.
In order to escape from this cycle, village communities need solutions which allow them to develop and invest in new and sustainable forms of energy supply, more efficient energy use and improved livelihoods and income generation based on integrated and sustainable management of the land and natural resources available to them.

The Ecovillages movement in Senegal embraces these concepts of sustainable development but does not yet have a tried and tested model, nor a national strategy for its widespread replication across the country. The project will test innovative participative methods of natural resource management, biodiversity conservation, renewable energy development, coupled with a reduction of carbon emissions and an increase in carbon sequestration, to help develop an Ecovillage model which meets people’s needs and contributes global benefits in terms of biodiversity conservation and low carbon development.

Media contact
Christian Hofer, Senior Communications Officer, GEF,, +1 202 413 4185

About the Global Environment Facility
The Global Environment Facility (GEF) unites 182 member governments — in partnership with international institutions, nongovernmental organizations, and the private sector — to address global environmental issues. An independently operating financial organization, the GEF provides grants to developing countries and countries with economies in transition for projects related to biodiversity, climate change, international waters, land degradation, the ozone layer, and persistent organic pollutants. These projects benefit the global environment, linking local, national, and global environmental challenges and promoting sustainable livelihoods.

Established in 1991, the GEF is today the largest public funder of projects to improve the global environment. The GEF has allocated $9.2 billion, supplemented by more than $40 billion in cofinancing, for more than 2,700 projects in more than 165 developing countries and countries with economies in transition. Through its Small Grants Programme (SGP), the GEF has also made more than 12,000 small grants directly to nongovernmental and community organizations, totaling $495 million.

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