11 August 2017

Gambia: Environmental Protection Is Critical to Socio-Economic Development

Sheikh Alkinky Sanyang, program officer for Environmental Awareness & Communication at the National Environment Agency ((NEA) has said that environmental protection and sustainable natural resource management is critical to the socio-economic development of the country as the population depends on it for her livelihoods. He therefore, called for positive attitudinal change from all and sundry in their daily environmental dispensations. He recently made these remarks in his Kanifing office during an exclusive interview with this paper.

He appealed for people to take responsibility of the destiny of their environment, while disclosing that the government of the Gambia elaborated the Gambia Environment Action Plan (GEAP) in 1991 to set guidelines within which all the environment and natural resource sectors of the Gambia are required to operate.

The GEAP, he said provides the basic framework for a sound and sustainable management of the Gambia's environment and natural resources as well as increased environmental awareness for effective public participation in sustainable environmental management.

The transfer of knowledge into our young school children in particular and the public at large on sound environmental management and sustainable development guarantees a healthy environment for everyone.

He pointed out that environmental protection needs holistic efforts from all walks of life in order to achieve any national sustainable development agenda, citing that it can trigger active popular participation for the Operation Clean the Nation (OCN) locally called Set-Settals, ban on plastic bags, Anti-littering Regulation and their social benefits, as they are designed to create a positive image of the country, boost tourism, reduce the incidence of vector-borne diseases especially malaria, and contribute to the country's attainment of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).

Calling for the incorporation of environmental issues into all spheres of our development sectors, Sheikh Alkinky Sanyang described school children as agents of change and promised to continue collaborate and build capacities of their stakeholders. He added that the agency's Schools Environment Outreach Programme, aims to inculcate environmental education and skills into the young school going children for them to serve as agents of change, as they are our future leaders. He also called for a concerted effort from parents, religious & traditional leaders, local authorities, communities and communicators in creating a better environment for our unborn future generation.

Responding to circumstances surrounding the recently non holding of the twice monthly Operation Clean the Nation, Sanyang announced that no sooner than later the exercise would resume with new vigor, design and format. He disclosed that the non holding of such cleansing exercise has enormous but serious negative impacts on both human health and the environment, and therefore called on them to apply the three Rs (Reduce, Re-Use and Recycle) waste generated before dumping.

"Cleanliness is next to godliness", said Alkinky Sanyang while calling for a positive attitudinal change in the Management, Maintenance & Monitoring of the environment.


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