this interview, the representative of The Gambia National Designated Authority
in the GCF (Global Climate Fund) has said the country should phase out fossil
fuel for electricity generation and move to renewable energy.
an exclusive interview with The Point, Bai Madi Ceesay, who works at the
Ministry of Finance and Economic Affairs and is responsible for the formulation
of the national budget and analysing the impact of climate change on the
country’s economy, said changing from fossil fuels to renewable energy would be
a game-changer and paradigm shift for the country.
we publish excerpt of the interview.
Point: Do you think there is any game-changer programme that GCF could fund in
The Gambia that would represent a paradigm shift?
game-changer programme that would represent a paradigm shift for The Gambia is
the phasing out of fossil fuels for electricity generation and moving to
renewable energy. Our country benefits
from nine months of continuous sunlight, and tapping into this resource would
enable us to expand electricity access to rural areas and also make it
second game-changer is the development of a climate-resilient natural resource
economy, through a large-scale ecosystem-based approach. This means managing our natural resources in
a way that promotes conservation and sustainable use. Our programme would aim to put in place alternative
income-generation sources that would be less impacted by the effects of climate
change. Our current reliance on the
agricultural sector, which is dependent on rainfall, is not sustainable. For us, adaptation to climate change is about
having robust livelihoods and ensuring people have reliable sources of income.
Point: What are the major challenges and opportunities in the implementation of
the Paris Agreement on climate change in The Gambia?
of our main challenges are most likely echoed by many developing countries:
capacity and financial resources.
Firstly, in terms of capacity, some of Gambia’s best minds are abroad
and the brain-drain impacts our development as we do not have enough skilled
nationals to address the challenges we are experiencing.
some of our Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDCs) are
conditional to international support for implementation.
are many opportunities. For instance,
The Gambia received support from the Economic Community of West African States
(ECOWAS), through its Regional Centre for Renewable Energy and Energy
Efficiency, to develop action plans on renewable energy and energy
efficiency. For our INDC activities on
mitigation, we drew from these plans to put forward the energy projects that
already exist, have been budgeted, and are in line with the Gambia national
development strategies, including at the regional level.
also benefited from early support to develop its renewable energy plans under
the United Nations Secretary-General’s Sustainable Energy for All (SE4ALL)
Point: How is climate change affecting The Gambia?
are already seeing the impacts of climate change, and one area significantly
affected is the agricultural sector. If you look at the country’s rainfall
pattern over the past 10 years, the volume of rain has decreased dramatically,
with at times very minimal rain during this period compared to the 1970s and
1980s. Some estimates point to a 30% decrease in rainfall in the last 30 years.
plays an important role in the Gambian economy, contributing about 25 per cent
towards the national Gross Domestic Product.
With around 70 per cent of the workforce employed or engaged in the
agricultural sector, any time the country encounters a drastic drop in rainfall
the economy contracts or registers minimal growth.
impact of climate change is severe coastal erosion, linked to sea-level
rise. The beaches in the capital of
Banjul are vanishing, and in some areas, hotels and other tourism facilities no
longer have the coastline they had a few years ago. This impacts tourism, which, in turn, affects
our economy. Flooding is also a problem
with rain water inundating the city, nearby towns and villages, causing damage
to infrastructure and disrupting livelihoods.
Point: What ways do The Gambia engages local communities and stakeholders in
the decision-making process?
innovation for us was the approach used when developing Gambia’s INDCs. We deployed a “bottom-up and top-down” method
to engage a broad group of stakeholders, with eight regional workshops
consisting of 150 people per workshop, and almost equal representation of women
and men. The focus was on increasing
public understanding of climate change, both in terms of the scientific and
political aspects. This was an important
element because in our initial discussions, it was clear that many rural
participants did not know why their crops failed or yields were low. The feedbacks collected were invaluable
because we heard directly from communities on the challenges they encounter and
the solutions that could improve their livelihoods in the face of climate
“top-down” component looked at how to implement the ideas and solutions
collected at the grassroots level by consulting government departments, NGOs,
the private sector and other partners. This balanced approach helped realise a country-owned comprehensive
assessment of where we need to take Gambia’s climate action plans.