‘Gambia’s coastal zone likely to undergo intense challenges’
By Cherno Omar Bobb
Aruna Jobe, Project Coordinator for the Global Climate Change Alliance Plus (GCCA+) under the National Environment Agency has said The Gambia’s coastal zone is likely to undergo intense challenges in the near future mainly due to demographic pressure on this small low-lying strip of land.
He made the remarks at the GCCA+ climate resilient coastal and marine zone project coastal forum held at the Sir Dawda Kairaba Jawara International Conference Centre yesterday, Thursday.
Mr Jobe added that more than 50 per cent of the country’s population already lives within the coastal area, pointing out that unless careful environmental planning and management strategies are instituted, continuous conflicts over coastal space and resources are obvious; and the indiscriminate and unregulated exploitation of the coastal and marine resources will hamper future development efforts.
He noted that in recognition of these undesirable threats, an Integrated Coastal Zone Management (ICZM) process can be a suitable option to minimize conflicts and ensure sustainable resource use.
“Historically, coastal zones have been amongst the most heavily exploited areas because of their rich natural resources. Correspondingly, there is also a sharp conflict between the need to utilise coastal resources and the need to conserve them for future generations,” he further said, adding that these conflicts are already manifest in The Gambia and have reached a critical stage, with large parts of the coastal zone encroached, fish stocks declining, wetlands drained or silted, beaches eroded, ecosystems polluted or affected by salinity.
Project Coordinator Jobe highlighted that if these challenges are to be overcome, serious action by all stakeholders is urgently required.
Dr Dawda Badjie, Executive Director for the National Environment Agency (NEA), said The Gambia is the 10th most vulnerable country to climate change, adding that the forum offers a unique opportunity for them to come up with a clear position and strategy for achieving an approach to natural resource management that benefits the current and future generations.
He thanked the European Union Delegation in The Gambia for their financial support in addressing climate change vulnerabilities of local communities as well as the Technical Assistance Team by AGREA for their technical support in delivering the project activities and knowledge generation and transfer.
Meanwhile, The “Project GCCA+ Climate Resilience Coastal and Marine Zone project for The Gambia” aims at consolidating results and positive experiences of the previous GCCA project “Support to The Gambia for Integrated Coastal Zone Management (ICZM) and the mainstreaming of climate change” 2013-2016.
The project seeks to benefit coastal communities and help them to adapt to impacts of climate change through institution strengthening, knowledge management, and demonstrated implementation of the National Decree of the Integrated Coastal Zone Management (ICZM) approach, at national and local levels.