27 February 2013

Gambia: Global Unification Launches Coastal Care Project

Global Unification (GU) The Gambia Monday officially launched at the head office of The Association of Non-Governmental Association (TANGO) an environment project dubbed Coastal Care Project.

The initiative that is designed to enhance the coastal communities' resilience to climate change will target three coastal communities namely Sanyang, Tanji and Gunjur; all in the West Coast Region. The initiative seeks to reduce the impact of climate change on the coastal communities, as well as improve community income levels. As part of the project, mangroves will be planted to enhance regeneration in these areas.

The principal climate change officer at the Ministry of Environment, Parks and Wildlife Management, Baboucarr Jallow, described the project as important, noting that it will improve the communities' resilience to the impact of climate change. The project, he reiterated, is a youth and community-led initiative that will impact positively on the coastal communities.

"The project will be achieved mainly through the planting of mangroves at strategic and eroded areas," he indicated, noting that women would also be trained in the sustainable use of the marine resources such as oysters.

Jallow used the opportunity to reaffirm government's commitment to helping these communities, while commending Global Unification for coming up with such a project that will not only help these communities, but the country at large.

The GU project coordinator, Madiba Sillah, equally described the project as important to the sustainable livelihood of the communities. He stressed that the fight against climate change and environmental protection cannot be won through fragmented individual efforts, but rather through concerted efforts by all, especially by stakeholders who are either directly affected or serving as main actors.

"Climate change impact in The Gambia, in the form of increases in sea levels and coastal erosion present serious long-term challenges to our development. The country being primarily low-lying, according to analysis, a one meter rise in sea levels could potentially inundate over eight percent of the country's land area. This includes over 61 percent of current mangroves, 33 percent of swamps and rice growing areas,with the potential of causing food insecurity, since most coastal communities cultivate rice for food," he indicated.

The GU coordinator further lamented that the destruction of mangroves affects fish species and other forms of marine life that use mangroves as life-supporting habitats. He thus justified their intervention in that mangroves are one of the most productive ecosystems on earth.

"Therefore, the Coastal Care Project aimed at reducing the effects of coastal erosion and damaged areas of the coastline in the selected villages. These communities are part of the most vulnerable areas of the country to flooding as a result of sea level rise caused by climate change or global warming. The deforestation and depletion of the mangrove forests have threatened their livelihood as many depend on oyster collection and face major risk of coastal inundation," he added.

Sillah thanked the stakeholders for taking part in such a worthwhile project.

A representative from the Department of Forestry, Hatab Camara, also explained that mangrove is an ecological term referring to a taxonomically diverse grouping of trees and shrubs that form the dominant plant in tidal, saline wetlands along sheltered tropical and subtropical coasts. He said mangroves are great sources of timber, poles, thatch and fuel with the bark used for tanning. He described the project as important given the impact it would have on the communities.

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