BY JOHN HOUANIHAU
THE United Nations Development Programme in partnership with Global Environment Facility Programme has recently awarded Ahetaha Water Conservation Association in East Are’are with a series of small grant projects.
With respect to the delivery of the small grant projects, Mai-Maasina Green Belt Project Officer, Michael Junior Siwainao acknowledged the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and Global Environment Facility Programme (GEF) for awarding and entrusting Ahetaha Water Conservation Association (AWCA) with much-funded projects.
The AWCA previously started its journey with the GEF Small Grants Programme back in 2020, however this year they managed to receive a full grant from UNDP as part of its continued partnership over the years.
Speaking during the recent launching and handing over of the milestone projects, Michael Junior Siwainao said that conservation is all about respect.
“It is the hub of life. Conservation is our only root/network/line if we are to travel back in time. Conservation is not an easy process. However, a good example is; that with every garden planting, it will take time before the harvest is ready.
“A good ground yields the best quality,” Michael told locals during the recent launching and handing over of the milestone projects.
The grant projects funded under the renewed partnership include:
• Construction of Training Center
• Construction of two ablution blocks
• Construction hand wash bay
• Landscaping the site and developing GIS mapping
• Establishment of 100m Coastal Zone -No-Go-No-Take Zone
• Construction of footpath and footbridge to the conservation village.
Michael pointed out that conservation in the Solomon Islands context has so many challenges.
“Tribal land ownership has a huge factor towards development. The people decide on what development will best suit their land. This refers to when we realize or understand the importance of short & long-term Goals and their effects. However, this all reflects on the management role.”
He later commended AWCA for taking the role of a big brother and mentor to other local affiliated conservation groups in the East Are’are region.
“Your achievements will be a huge bonus to your setup here at Ahetaha,” Michael acknowledged.
He said, after all, that Mai-Maasina Green Belt’s vision is not based on an overseas outlook or a foreign organization but has a setup that is determined by Mai -Maasina individuals who voluntarily aim to work within our shores and importantly with our people for a better tomorrow.
“After all we wouldn’t let any institution, NGOs, or any set-up defame our people. Mai-Maasina Green Belt Initiative represents the people of Are’are and more to that the Initiative is mainly focused on the “Preservation & Protection of our natural resources,” said Michael.
He reminded students and youths engaging in the projects to take a sense of ownership in implementing the projects.
“This is the best platform and investment for you, learn from your elders, work with them and train yourself to be a leader. One day our hard-working fathers and mothers will be gone and these resources will all be left for us to manage.
“Do not invest yourself in activities that will jeopardize you and your association. Already, Ahetaha has pinned itself on the world map. Be ready to carry on this huge responsibility.
“Live in it, grow with it, learn from this and be a role model for the next generation.
“This Investment “Conservation” comes with a lot of challenges. Be ready when the time comes,” Michael said.