CAROLINE ROBOTTOM, PROGRAMMES OFFICER, TREE AID
Why did you apply to the Big Lottery Fund?
We were successful in 1997 with an application to the Community Fund to set up a West Africa programme based in Burkina Faso. We also kept up to date with the Big Lottery Fund through the Bond funding working group. We recognised that Tree Aid's work would fit well with the BLF's International Grants Natural Resources funding. This latest grant of £712,000 over five years for our Village Tree Enterprise project will help rural communities in Burkina Faso and Mali to earn income from tree products such as fruit, nuts and honey. The project will also help about 70,000 people to become less vulnerable to climate change and environmental degradation.
What did the application process involve?
A long, electronic application form. It took a few weeks of work - liaising with our colleagues and partners in West Africa and advisers in the UK.
We submitted in mid-September last year and heard in January that our application had passed the first stage. We had an assessment discussion with a grants officer in February, followed by a financial assessment visit in March. We heard we got the grant in April.
Is part of the money for infrastructure or training?
Training is a key part of our project and the grant will pay for 17 facilitators and 11 part-time posts in west Africa. The costs of training beneficiaries in forest management, tree-product processing and development will also be covered. The BLF will pay for limited overheads. In the UK, the grant will pay for a share of one programme support post.
Did you apply to other funders?
We applied to Comic Relief but were unsuccessful. We've since applied successfully to the Isle of Man Overseas Aid Committee. We are still seeking £120,000 so that we can extend the project to northern Ghana.