The Gambia moves to mainstream climate issues

23 February 2016

Representatives of the Agriculture and Natural Resources sector (ANR) and the civil society validated the national climate policy, a major move towards mainstreaming climate change into Gambia’s development planning.

Climate adaptation is a race against time in The Gambia, the smallest country on the African mainland.

As a low-lying country that depends heavily on agriculture for food and incomes, it is highly vulnerable to the effects of climate change, such as extreme weather, less rain, and rising sea levels too. The Gambia must prepare quickly for the future.

The initiative was supported through the Global Climate Change Alliance (GCCA) and implemented by the Department of Water Resources.

Speaking at the ceremony, Pa Ousman Jarjue, Minister of Environment, Climate Change, Water, Forestry, Parks and Wildlife described the menace of climate change his country is faced with.

“There is more and more evidence that extreme weather events such as droughts, floods, and storms are becoming more severe and frequent,” he said, during the three-day meeting in early February on how the Gambia can implement climate policies more effectively, mainstreaming it into other development policies.

He explained that mainstreaming climate change into development planning began with the national policy.

The meeting took place in the capital, Banjul, in a hotel overlooking the sea, and was attended by government and non-governmental groups from all over the West African country.

GCCA support to The Gambia has two components – coastal zone management and the mainstreaming of climate change into development planning.

“Given the urgency of these issues, prioritisation is key,” said Darrell Sexstone, Officer-in-Charge of the EU Delegation in The Gambia’s capital, Banjul.

“Fisheries, agriculture, even tourism, are all at risk from climate change and The Gambia’s leaders are determined to minimise the impacts wherever they can,” he said.

For effective climate adaptation in The Gambia, terminology on climate change issues and solutions must be translated into local languages, including English, Mandinka, Wollof, Fula, and Jola, officials say.

Agriculture provides jobs for 44 percent of the country’s workforce and an estimated two thirds of household income, according to World Bank data. With droughts becoming more frequent, The Gambia must boost capacity for early warning, proactive planning, and planting more drought-resistance crop species.

With some 30 percent of the country at or below 10 meters above sea level, The Gambia is also vulnerable to floods and rising sea levels.

Following the climate agreement in Paris, the GCCA+ became one of the EU’s best places initiatives to implement its outcomes. It aims to support most vulnerable developing countries to combat climate change and translate global policies into local actions.

Sources:

  1. World Bank, Gambia Climate Dashboard
  2. Malanding Jaiteh, Columbia University (2011) – “Climate change and development in the Gambia”

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