The African Elephant Fund (AEF) and the African Elephant Fund Steering Committee (AEFSC) were established in 2011 to support the implementation of the Action plan.
The AEFSC, chaired by South Africa, held its first meeting from 12 to 14 December 2011 in South Africa to initiate the AEF funding allocation process. Financial support for this meeting was provided by Germany, and financial as well as logistical support by the host country. To facilitate the allocation of the funds, draft pilot projects proposals had been developed by the four African subregions in a format agreed by the AEFSC. These proposals needed to focus on the first three objectives of the African elephant action plan:
- Reduced illegal killing of elephants and illegal trade in elephant products;
- Maintained elephant habitats and restored connectivity; and
- Reduced human-elephant conflict.
At this first meeting, the AEFSC discussed in detail the management and division of the funds. It was agreed that funds in the AEF that were not earmarked should be divided into 70 percent for a regional account (to be divided into four equal parts for each of the African subregions, and allocated to proposals submitted by African elephant range States), and 30 percent for a discretionary account (to be allocated to proposals identified by the AEFSC as urgent and consistent with the AEAP's objectives 1, 2 or 3).
The AEFSC agreed for South Africa to chair for three years to facilitate the first phase of implementation of the projects funded through the AEF.
At the meeting, the AEFSC evaluated 13 project proposals and formulated comments and recommendations for each, which were subsequently communicated to the proponents. The project assessment and evaluation criteria were agreed to include sustainability, transparency, quality, uniqueness, innovation, potential to replicate and good governance. Based on the available funds in the AEF, the AEFSC could allocate approximately USD 28,000 to each subregion, and USD 48,106 were available for urgent proposals.
Unfortunately, the limited funds in the AEF meant that the AEFSC could not approve all proposals in this first phase of implementation.
The AEFSC recommended the funding of the following proposals through the AEF, provided the recommendations made by the AEFSC were addressed.
Congo: Study concerning the elaboration of a national strategy for the attenuation of human-elephant conflicts in the Congo (USD 16,545 from subregional account).
Gabon: Construction of a warehouse for confiscated ivory in Libreville (USD 26,579 from discretionary account).
Ethiopia: Awareness-raising campaign to control illegal trade in elephant ivory in Ethiopia (USD 20,000 from subregional account).
Malawi: Strengthening the law enforcement capacity of the Department of National Parks and Wildlife (USD 20,000 from subregional account).
Benin: Study of trade circuits of ivory and ivory-based products between Benin, Burkina Faso, Niger and Togo (USD 29,269 from subregional account).
Nigeria: Strengthening law enforcement and reducing elephant poaching in Yankari Game Reserve (USD 14,850 from discretionary account; proposal to be re-submitted to address recommendations of AEFSC).
Proposals not retained for this first round of project review should be amended in accordance with the recommendations of the AEFSC, and may be re-submitted through the relevant subregional AEFSC representatives. These proposals comprised the following:
Zambia: Mitigation of human-elephant conflict in the Lupande and Chiawa game management areas in Zambia (USD 159,750).
Benin: Upgrading of the elephant circuits (routes) of the clustered Forests of the Goumgoum and the Sota of Benin (USD 29,370).
Benin: Capacity building of the local authorities and the bordering populations to the National Park 'W' for the conservation of elephants (USD 27,735).
Burkina Faso: Capacity building of the management of human/elephant conflicts in Burkina Faso (USD 57,000). Liberia: Human-elephant Conflict (USD 20,000).
Mali: Contribution to the management of space (habitat) and human-elephant conflict in Gourma, Mali (USD 25,672).
Senegal: Project to support the improvement of the elephant population in the Nukulabar (Niokolo Koba) National Park (USD 72,067).
The AEFSC concluded that, to ensure the successful and effective implementation of the African elephant action plan through the AEF, dedicated secretarial support and translation services would be required and that these should be secured as a matter of urgency. The Chair of the AEFSC submitted a formal request to UNEP regarding the provision of such services.