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APSnet, NATCOM converge at National Sanitization forum

Apr 20, 2011, 4:02 PM

Gambia Association of Schools Project Network (APSnet) and the Gambia National Commission (NATCOM) for UNESCO on 19 April 2011 organised a two-day national training workshop for UNESCO APSnet school coordinators and students of the Greater Banjul schools.

The training centres on Sandwatch, Climate Change and Environmental Awareness with the objectives of building the capacity of teachers and students to advocate and increase awareness of the fragile nature of the marine and coastal environment.

It also seeks to train the participants on the need to use the environment wisely.

The training, funded by UNESCO, also witnessed the launching of a Sandwatch project in ASPnet schools around the coastal region.

In his welcoming remarks, Yahya Al-Matarr Jobe, national coordinator of ASPnet, said the occasion marked the beginning of the implementation process of the UNESCO-funded project for APSnet for the year 2010-2011 in The Gambia.

“UNESCO Association of School Network now in The Gambia comprises 22 schools nationwide with the new entrants of SBEC International High School and Bakoteh Proper Lower Basic School,” he acknowledged.

The project, he revealed, has three focused thematic areas such as promoting environmental awareness, climate change and sandwatch project, which will link up to complement and enhance other projects undertaken in this area by the Gambia government.

The secretary general of NATCOM, Sukai Bojang, said: “The sandwatch project is an educational process, which provides a new vision of education that seeks to empower people of all ages to assume responsibility for creating and enjoying a sustainable future.”

She pointed out that the environmental awareness at UNESCO has filtered down to the cluster office in Dakar that has renewed efforts to involve The Gambia among others to place high premium on the country’s coastline and beautiful beaches.

Madam Bojang calls for partnership in this area as this country uses its beaches and sun to promote tourism, adding: “Sandwatch, for us, was another area in which the ASPnet can forge partnership to contribute towards pertinent world concerns, especially the environment.”

She commended the Gambia ASPnet for being selected out of the 40 membership in Africa, Caribbean, Americans and Europe to represent African continent in New York for the observance of the victims of slavery.

“The coastal zone in The Gambia supports diverse and important ecosystems including sandy beaches, estuaries, coastal wetlands and sea grass meadows that only harbour rich marine biodiversity,” said the executive director of the National Environmental Agency (NEA).

According to the NEA boss, increase in mean surface temperature of up to 0.5% per decade, increased rainfall variability and intensity, accelerated sea level rise of around 1 metre per century,  are among other climate change scenarios anticipated for the entire West African sub-region including The Gambia.

He said the NEA is working in close collaboration with Gambia National Commission for UNESCO to support similar initiatives in the future, calling on the youth as agent to support the work of sandwatch and ASPnet to protect the country’s coastal areas.

Other speakers on the occasion included Anna John-Ceesay, Region 1 educational director.