25 June 2011

Sierra Leone: Wetlands International Africa, Journalists Tour Tombo and Fogbo

Freetown — As part of their training of journalists on cross learning dialogue on climate change adaptation, Wetlands International Africa (WIA) on Tuesday took journalists on a tour of Tombo and Fogbo communities in the Western Rural district of the capital where the organisation is undertaking some programmes.

The tour aimed at assessing the level of understanding of inhabitants of Tombo and Fogbo about climate change.

In Tombo, it was discovered that the community is experiencing climate change but authorities there are putting mitigation measures in place to conserve and preserve their environment.

During a group discussion with community stakeholders and officials of the Ministry of Fisheries and Marine Resources, it was disclosed by national master fisherman Pa Amadu 'Sea Port' Kamara that they are experiencing dramatic changes in the weather condition as compared to the past. These changes he attributed to the rampant cutting of mangroves for domestic purposes, and deforestation due to stone mining, timber and logging.

Kamara said due to climate change, fishermen are experiencing low catch of fish, rise in the sea level and temperature, erosion of the water shore and water catchment areas.

Two thirds of the land was washed away by rise in the water level, said headman Pa Bangura but that they have designed mitigation and adaptation measures to reduce the adverse effect of climate change in the area.

He disclosed that they have formulated by-laws to replant mangrove trees and banking of water shores and catchment areas.

The headman pointed out that the authorities and government agencies are engaging in educating the community on the need to protect, preserve and conserve the environment and wetlands for environmental sustainability.

In the Fogbo community, a similar situation was discovered as in Timbo.

Councillor Ajibu Sawaneh explained that they are experiencing heavy storms, unreliable rains, water shortage, scarcity of fish and flooding due to deforestation of the mangroves and the forest.

He went on: "We are drafting laws on how to conserve and preserve the wetlands and also replanting of trees". He added that one of the adaptation measures they are embarking on is permanent nursery of site to replant mangrove trees.

However, the community requested Wetlands International to help them with rice mills as a way of finding alternative means of survival for people who destroy the mangroves.

Councillor Sawaneh said they are sensitizing people to desist from cutting the mangrove.

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