By: Nyima Sillah
Aruna A.M Jobe, Project Coordinator Global Climate Change Alliance (GCCA), has emphasized that The Gambia’s coastal zone is likely to undergo intense challenges shortly due to the demographic pressure on the small low-lying strip of land.
Mr. Jobe made these remarks on Thursday at the Gambia European Union Cooperation Coastal forum for the GCCA Project held at the Sir Dawda Kairaba Jawara Conference Centre in Bijilo.
The forum brought together stakeholders to discuss project implementation, and issues that require a wider consultation.
Jobe disclosed that more than 50 percent of the country’s population lives within the coastal area.
“Consequently, unless careful environmental planning and management strategies are instituted, continuous conflicts over coastal space and resources are obvious, and the indiscriminate and unregulated exploitation of our coastal and marine resources will hamper future development efforts,” he noted.
According to him, an Integrated Coastal Zone Management (ICZM) process can be a suitable option to minimize conflicts and ensure sustainable resource use.
He also said coastal zones have been amongst the most heavily exploited areas because of their rich natural resources, adding correspondingly, “there is also a sharp conflict between the need to utilize coastal resources and the need to conserve them for future generations.”
“These conflicts are already manifested in the Gambia and have reached a critical stage with large parts of the coastal zone encroached, fish stock declining, wetlands drained or silted, beaches eroded, ecosystems polluted or affected by salinity. If these challenges are to be overcome, serious action by all stakeholders is urgently required,” he added.
Dr. Dawda Badgie, National Environment Agency (NEA) Executive Director, pointed out that The Gambia is the 10th most vulnerable country to climate change, based on the level of vulnerability and poor state of the economy.
He disclosed that Gambia has benefited from EU funding to provide technical assistance through the GCCA+ Climate Resilient Coastal and Marine Zone Project for the Gambia.
“The project seeks to benefit coastal communities and help them adapt to the impacts of climate change through institutional strengthening, knowledge management, and demonstrated implementation of an integrated coastal zone management (ICZM) approach, at national and local levels,” he explained.
Badgie stated that the National Environment Agency offers institutional capacity, through the Coastal and Marine Environment Program, for hosting the ICZM secretariat and providing the necessary technical support.
“I am confident that with the already established experience in coastal zone management, and continued support from other partners, we expect to have a smooth process of institutionalizing and effective ICMZ for the Gambia,” he said.
Meanwhile, Heiko Zailat GCCA+ Technical Assistant, and Evangelina European Union representative both explained the importance of the forum and the significance of climate change, especially adaptation.