11 April 2012

Gambia: Environment Experts Concerned Over Coastal Erosion

Environment experts at the Ministry of Forestry and the Environment headed by Minister Fatou Ndey Gaye recently visited the country's urban coastlines, raising concerns on the depleting nature of the seashore, especially at the Senegambia area.

Gaye, who assumed office two months ago as the minister of Forestry and the Environment was accompanied on the tour by officials of the National Environment Agency (NEA). The daylong tour took them to coastlines in Cape Point, Fajara and Senegambia.

The tour, according to officials was meant to obtain firsthand information on the current situation of the coastlines with a view to come up with concrete mechanisms that would help in averting or lessening possible future erosions and other problems that threatened the coastlines. The tour also sought to acquaint the new Forestry and the Environment minister on the different mitigation actions taken by stakeholders in the past to halt the impact of the coastal erosion that ate up a greater part of the area.

Speaking to the accompanying journalists on the tour, Minister Fatou Ndey-Gaye, said that even though all the sites visited need attention, the beaches at Senegambia and Kairaba require urgent consideration. She indicated that after the beach nourishment in the area, the coast was 160 meters away but decried that it has significantly reduced to just 16 meters.

Recalling that there was some nourishment at the beach sometime ago by the government, Minister Gaye lamented that her Ministry has already realised that the same problems that were addressed have been reoccurring again at the beach sites.

"One has to come out to see where the problems are happening," she stated, while acknowledging the efforts of various individuals in trying to put the problems at bay.

"We appreciate their efforts because their properties are on the beaches and they have done a lot," she said.

Minister Gaye admitted that erosions are taking place at the beaches, but was quick to indicate that it is caused by both the sea and the rain, a situation she said makes the problem more complicated.

She then indicated her Ministry's commitment to put heads together with a view to draw a roadmap to tackle the issue.

"The Ministry would involve stakeholders and come up with something in the very near future," she promised.

Also speaking to reporters, the executive director of the NEA, Momodou Sarr, said among the places they visited, the Senegambia area needed more attention than others.

"In my opinion, this particular site needs more attention," he stated, recalling that in 2004 after the beach nourishment, it was pushed 160 meters away from the coast compared to now when it has drastically reduced.

The environment expert argued that the site is the only one among the visited areas that needs urgent attention.

Dilating on the impact of erosion, the NEA boss expatiated that erosion is bad in that it affectsbiodiversity. He spoke about the importance of mangroves, something he said is not only vital to tourism but also serve as a breeding ground for many species. He added that it would be prudent to maintain the sand on the beaches as it is critical for tourism.

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