By: Sheikh Alkinky Sanyang
The Executive Director of the National Environment Agency (NEA) said positive attitudinal change towards the environment is a driving force for any socio-economic development of the country. Being a cross cutting issue, he said environmental issues are paramount to any sustainable development agenda and therefore warned that we must take-care of the environment and failure of which, the environment will take care of us.
Dr. Dawda Badgie made these and other remarks in all the regional capitals including Kerewan in the North Bank, Janjangbureh in the Central River, Basse in the Upper River, Mansakonko in the Lower River and Brikama in the West Coast Region, during an official nationwide familiarization tour of NEA`s regional offices and projects under his purview, and in meeting with relevant stakeholders including Governors, members of the Environmental Impact Assessment group (EIA) and Agriculture and Natural Resources (ANR) working groups in the regions.
The objective of the trip is to help him familiarize with regional authorities, environmental technicians including the Technical Advisory Committees (TAC) in the regions, in a bid to build their capacities in the agency`s decentralization efforts for the dispensation of regional environment programs through an integrated approach.
The tour party also assessed the level of enforcement efforts of environmental laws, and had open discussions with stakeholders through conclaves staged at conference halls or bantabas of regional Governors.
In Kerewan, the regional capital of NBR, Dr. Badgie and entourage were received on behalf of the Governor, by the Deputy Governor of the region Dembo Samateh, who told the regional authorities and TAC family members that they are at the center of protecting and conserving natural resources within the region.
He said the NEA will help build the capacity of TAC/ANR/EIA working groups in all the regions to give a national face to their decentralization efforts; that this will also further nurture and develop sustainable use of local resources to increase adaptive measures against climate change which is a leading agent to deforestation and poverty.
He therefore called on TAC members to be committed to the global fight against the impacts and phenomenon of climate change that has cause and is still causing negative impacts on the livelihoods of the people.
Commenting on Operation Clean the Nation, he said this will soon be reintroduced as it aims to transform the nation to a clean and healthy one for the benefit of everyone. That it has positive environmental, economic and health impacts on the livelihoods of Gambians, noting that even the prevalence of malaria has drastically dropped in some areas.
Among others, he said NEA has given all Area Councils and Municipalities assorted amount of waste bins and will soon supply them with motorise tricycles, to enhance and facilitate their waste collection processes.
Dr. Badgie called for attitudinal change from local communities towards what he described as the self-destruction exercise of pilling off the remaining sand cover and natural sand dunes, felling down of the vegetation cover, bush fires and charcoal production. Environmental protection he said helps enhance livelihood support systems making incumbent on us all to stop any individual, group or organization that tampers with it.
These natural resources, he pointed out, are often exploited unsustainably as demand for them gets very high coupled with unsustainable practices of utilization as well as other drivers of environmental degradation that have placed undue pressure on the natural resource base, thereby impacting negatively.
Responding to questions on plastic pollution, he said it rendered severe environmental and health threats to humans, livestock and marine eco-systems and due to its adverse effects and uncompromising hazards, Government banned the use, production and sale of single use plastics bags in the country, since 1st July 2015.
“The continuous use of plastic bags threatens our food security as they resist decomposition for decades and becomes a virtual eye-sore in public places. Most plastic wastes find their ways into gutters and water ways and cause blockages during the rainy season, subsequently causing flooding in cities and growth centers,” Dr. Badgie pointed out.
In Kerewan in NBR, Janjangbureh in CRR, Basse in URR and Mansakonko in LRR, Dr. Badgie was respectively received by the Deputy Governors Dembo Samateh, Alh. Sainey Mbye, Mamanding Ceesay and Fakebba Darboe. In the final face of the tour, the NEA executive and entourage were received by Ousman Bojang, Governor of West Coast Region.
All the regional high authorities thanked the leadership of the NEA for their foresight leading the well anticipated decentralization process. They however agreed with Dr. Badgie`s challenge, that everyone is part of the problem so therefore everyone should also be part of the solution to address the country’s environmental problems.