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Environment: Community-based adaptation strategies to mitigate effects of climate change

Sep 5, 2014, 10:43 AM | Article By: Abdourahman Sallah

Hello and a warm welcome to yet another edition of Environment, your weekly column that brings environmental issues to the limelight.

In our today’s edition we look at the various efforts made by CSOs in the crusade to combat climate change and environmental protection in the country using Community-Based Adaptation approaches to mitigate effects of climate change.

Executive Director of Biodiversity Action Journalists-Gambia, Abdou Rahman Sallah, according to him, climate change poses great challenges for the rural poor in developing countries who tend to rely on natural resources for their livelihoods and have limited capacity to adapt to climate change.

Long-term changes in temperature and precipitation and increases in climate variability and extreme weather related events are already evident in many parts of the world, he said.

It has become increasingly clear that even serious efforts to mitigate climate change would be inadequate to prevent devastating climate change impacts that threaten to reverse many of the economic gains made in the developing world in recent decades, he added.

Therefore, individuals, communities and policymakers must adapt to a new climate reality to increase resilience against future climate change, much of which remains highly uncertain.

“Though the literature on climate change adaptation is quite extensive, much of it focuses on policy responses to climate change (either nationally or internationally) or autonomous adaptation at the individual or household level, often leaving out community level adaptation efforts,” Mr Sallah said.

However, he added, a small but growing body of literature draws on the literature of collective action and rural development and focuses on collective adaptation efforts of community members for the benefit of a larger group.

Concentration on adaptation responses at the community-level is key and the context or factors that influence adaptation at this level.

In particular, this focuses on the ways in which communities organize to adapt collectively to climate change, the extent to which all stakeholders to participate in community-based adaptation (CBA) efforts, and the factors that influence how men and women respond to climate change.

Mr Sallah urged the people of the Upper River Region to protect the forest from bushfires and over-exploitation of natural resources to ensure its availability at all times.

Sisawo Sabally, a forestry officer in Basse Regional Forestry Office, said that in two decades the country lost over ninety-seven thousands (97; 000) hectares of forest cover due largely to human activities, such as over exploitation and bushfires, thus called for community-based adaptation strategies.

Mr Sabally observed that the alarming rate of forest degradation has an adverse effect on lives and livelihoods in the country.

He said: “More than 60 per cent of our forest is being consumed by bushfires annually and other forms of environmental problems causing losses to the natural vegetation, crops, household livelihoods and property.

“Observations have shown that the major causes of bushfires are farmland clearing, and hunting (using fire).

“Bushfires lead to loss of soil nutrients, less rainfall, loss of animal fodder increase of carbon emission.”

He made these remarks during the national caravan on raising public awareness on the dangers of illegal logging, bushfires and exploitation of marine resources in a meeting held in Gambisara, Jimara district of URR, an initiative organised by BAJ-Gambia supported by UNDP/GEF-SGP.

Chief Executive Officer of Basse Area Council, Pa Sait Ceesay, urged his people to protect the forest cover from bushfires.

He said: “The importance of the forest cannot be over-emphasized, therefore, high attention must be given to the forest, and culprits of bushfires should face the full force of the law. 

“We should plant more trees, stop bushfires and use recommended fishing gears to avoid killing juvenile fish,” he said.

CEO Ceesay commended BAJ-Gambia for their commitment towards environmental protection, calling on his people to support the work of the environmental-oriented journalists.

Mamadi Sanneh, URR regional focal person for BAJ-Gambia, called for concerted efforts at stemming the tide of bushfires.

Nuha Badjie, regional manager of GRTS Basse, said: “The first weapon in this crucial fight is the commitment we must all demonstrate at our individual and collective levels and as patriotic citizens, in preserving our forest.”

Local authorities in the region should strengthen the application of the anti-bushfire law, he said.

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