May 31, 2017, 12:31 PM
The Principal Education Officer (PEO) of the School Agricultural and Environment Unit under the Ministry of Basic and Secondary Education has said that environmental conservation is beyond one person’s domain, particularly as regards climate change and the menace of disaster strikes.
Gibril Barry said this call for critical environmental thinking to tackle and mitigate any future environmental instability that might strike thus affects not only today’s generation but also the one yet unborn.
PEO Barry made these statements during a consultative meeting with members of Biodiversity Action Journalists - The Gambia (BAJ).
The network members last Friday paid him a courtesy call at his office in Old Jeshwang (the World Food Programme sub-office complexion).
The meeting was held to have an audience with the relevant stakeholders in the area of environment to discuss and strategise ways and means of networking and collaborating to achieve the desired goals of the initiative.
According to Mr Barry, his ministry has in its policy an environmental programme working with Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs), Community Based Organizations (CBOs), networks and agencies in the area of environment and its related issues.
He added that there are policies, strategic plans and other development plans that are the guiding tools used in designing and implementing programmes and activities relating to the environment.
Mr Barry commended BAJ-Gambia for the initiative to join the crusade in fighting to end environmental degradation, deforestation and over-exploitation of biodiversity resources whose consequences pose threats to rain-fed farming cycle, thus threatening food security.
He said: “Environment is beyond one person’s domain, especially with the climate change phenomenon and disaster vulnerabilities areas, which requires the participation of all and sundry, particularly the media, who are agent of change, to ring the bell loud and get the attention of the stakeholders to be able to collectively work to make a change.”
PEO Barry further disclosed that West Africa is in serious ecological calamities as the desertification is encroaching in a faster rate of 5km annually, and concerted efforts are required to mitigate desertification from encroaching in the sub-region.
Mr Barry assured them of his ministry’s cooperation as far as the environment is concerned.
For his part, Abdou Rahman Sallah, National Coordinator of BAJ-Gambia, said the organisation is an advocacy group of journalists from the print, electronic, bloggers and online reporters and was founded in December 2010 with technical support from the Department of Parks and Wildlife Management.
“The idea came as a result of an exchange visits between Senegal and The Gambia through Niumi-Saloum Trans-boundary Biosphere project, “which is being jointly implemented by The Gambia and Senegal” and funded by the IUCN and UNESCO, Man and Biosphere (MAB),” he added.
Mr Sallah added that at the end of the weeklong visit there was a consensus with the Senegalese environmental journalists and one of the resolutions was for the two countries to have a biodiversity organization in the respective countries.
The aim is to promulgate biodiversity issues using various mediums of dispatching information to the general public.
“This is what prompted the formation of this network to bridge the gap of inadequate and under-reporting on environmental issues that is affecting us either directly or indirectly as long as we live,” he said.
The BAJ-Gambia national coordinator also used the opportunity to commend the Ministry of Basic and Secondary Education (MoBSE) through its environmental unit office for according BAJ-Gambia an audience to discuss the activities, programmes and plans of the organisation for possible partnership.
For his part, Lamin Kanteh Education Officer and the focal point of School of Agriculture and Agricultural Environment Unit under the MoBSE, stated: “This unit is working with all the schools across the country.”
Mr Kanteh said further that they had established more than two hundred environmental clubs, developed training manuals and provided capacity-building training for garden masters on environmental biodiversity.