13 August 2012

Gambia: Banjul Risks Sinking As Sea Level Rises

Photo: Boakai M.Fofana/allAfrica.com
The ocean is encroaching on settlements.

Banjul is at risk of going under water as sea levels rise by one meter as a result of climate change and other environmental ramifications, the minister of works, constructions and infrastructures, Francis Leity Mboge warned Thursday.

Minister Mboge said, with a one meter sea level rise not only settlements risk being eroded, but also 60 percent of mangrove forest, 33 percent of swampy areas and 20 percent of rice fields will be lost on a national scale. "As a result, this will lead to a decrease in rice production and impede the objectives of the one of the country's blueprint that targets 70, 000 metric tons of rice on yearly basis," Minister Mboge said during his address at the start of a workshop on enhancing resilience for vulnerable coastal areas and communities to climate change in The Gambia, organised by the United Nations Development Programme in Banjul.

The project is intended to help mitigate the country's vulnerability to climate change by improving coastal defenses and enhancing adaptive capacities of coastal communities given Gambia's situation as one of the most vulnerable countries in Africa to the impacts of environmental adversities.

According to Mboge environmental scenarios in The Gambia suggest that the climate variability currently being experienced is likely to increase and intensify with droughts, floods and storms likely to increase, in both frequency and intensity. In coastal areas, sea level rise and rising sea temperatures will lead to saltwater intrusion, floods and coastal erosion, he warned.

"This constitutes a significant threat to the country because important economic activities such as tourism and fisheries are located in the coastal zones. The destruction of human infrastructure and destabilisation of rich eco-systems from higher sea levels could be very significant, and result in serious damage to the livelihoods of those engaged in these activities," he further stated.

Izumi Morota-Alakija, UNDP deputy resident representative, said studies both in Gambia and abroad show that climate change will have significant consequences on coastal regions, especially low-lying coasts with their mangrove ecosystems.

Momodou B Sarr, theexecutive directorof the National Environmental Agency, noted that the effects of climate change on the country will endanger Gambia's survival as a nation, if not properly checked before nature unleashes its fury on the smallest country on mainland Africa.

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