Gambia: Addressing Floods - NDMA Regional Coordinator Calls for Engineering Study

Ms. Binta Sey-Jadama, the National Disaster Management Agency (NDMA) Regional Coordinator, has emphasized the need for stakeholders to come together and conduct an engineering study in a bid to hammer out solutions that would address the issue of floods in the country.

Madam Sey-Jadama's remarks came in the wake of floods caused by heavy downpour of rains last week, which caused displacement of many families as well as the destruction of several compounds in some areas in the West Coast Region.

"The solution is, Government, specifically NDMA, National Road Authority (NRA), Physical Planning, National Environment Agency (NEA) and Ministry of Works, have to come with a special engineering study of these areas, to make sure the occurrences of such is averted," she said.

She said there should be no blame game, while pointing out the need for Government, Philanthropists, donors and other stakeholders to intervene by creating a bigger drainage system that would connect the entire Kombo North and create an outlet for the waters to be flushed to the Kotu stream.

Ms. Sey-Jadama further said the flooding situation is an unfortunate one, saying the history of the two Nemas, as well as kunkujang, Sinchu Alagie etc. showed that they are within the swamps and most victims were situated in these areas.

She said looking at the paths of the running waters from Lamin and New Yundum end run to Nema, kunkujang and other affected places. Therefore, the aforesaid places are situated at the root of the water canals.

She added that it's not the fault of the victims to settle in swampy areas, noting most people settled in these earlier.

"There is uncoordinated planning and uncoordinated settlement. If at all people's settlement were well coordinated, people would not have settled on water ways. Since there is uncoordinated plan and inadequate implementation of policies, referencing the physical planning act, could've been a better remedy but implementation of some of these regulations are problems now," she said.

Madam Sey-Jadama said had it been, the implementation of these regulations were in progress, perhaps some of these damages would not have happened to the people living in swampy areas, often called "Swam Dwellers."

Madam Sey-Jadama said in 2010, flood occurred in Nema due to heavy rain which was above normal rainfall. She observed a similar rain happened last week, which was quite abnormal in October, receiving 95.3mm of rain.

"So our role is to sensitize the people of what's going to happen because we rely on the water resources data to forecast what's going to happen. In the communities, you would realize that there are new settlements that are emerging, so if you see to it that, if a particular plot of land is constructed, it will block water ways, people in that environment can report to the authorities for safety purposes," she said.

Madam Sey-Jadama also said most people block water ways to safeguard their compounds, which can sometimes cause flooding of that nature. Therefore, she said the issue of floods calls for national intervention.

The NDMA Regional Coordinator said they work hand-in-hand with most of the local authorities such as NRA, Physical Planning and NEA for identification of hotspots; and the two Nemas as among the hotspots.

"The Nemas hotspot is a cross-community, in the sense that it touched or go through Wellingara, Sinchu, Kunkujang and Bundung and connected West Coast and KM to allow free flow of water because there is no empty space in Nema for water," she said.

Meanwhile, Madam Sey-Jadama said NDMA is a young institution established in November, 2009. By then, she said all the aforementioned places were occupied.

She added: "But according to some elders, in the 1970s, the rains were not that much, but because there were rains although, they avoided swampy areas for better places. When the trend of the rain fall changes, people started settling in swampy areas again without proper planning and coordination," she said.

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