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Gambia vulnerable to climate change - NEA Chief

Aug 26, 2011, 12:16 PM | Article By: Sainey M.K. Marenah

The Gambia is among the countries that are most vulnerable to climate change in Africa, and the capital city of Banjul is threatened by climate change, Momodou B. Sarr, Executive Director of the National Environment Agency, NEA, has said.

Sarr was presenting a paper at the day-long launching of the TANGO policy dialogue held at the TANGO office recently.

He told a group of experts, policy-makers, development officers as well as journalists of climate change’s impacts on the country’s infrastructure, including potential inundation of a large part of Banjul due to sea-level rise.

According to him, the impact on national infrastructure includes the effects of continuing coastal erosion to the Banjul-Serrekunda highway, particularly between Denton Bridge and Banjul.

Mr. Sarr described climate change as a change of climate which is attributed directly or indirectly to human activity that alters the composition of the global atmosphere, and which is in addition to natural climate variability observed over comparable time periods.

 Sarr said the temperature of the earth is regulated by the greenhouse effect.

“Without the greenhouse effect, the average temperature would be -18°C and human beings would not survive here,” he added.

The NEA boss noted that adaptation is a process by which strategies to moderate, cope with and take advantage of the consequences of climatic events are enhanced, developed, and implemented.

He further stated that vulnerability and resilience are key terms in climate change.

Mr. Sarr revealed that climate change impact on agriculture is attributed to 40 per cent drop in groundnut yields due to rising temperatures and the disappearance of freshwater swamps, and soil salinization in lowland areas resulting from sea level rise is likely to impact negatively on rice production  and the lives of women farmers in these areas.

He said dominance of heat and drought-tolerant species could lead to further loss of agricultural biodiversity, increased food insecurity, rural poverty and hardship, among others.

On fisheries, the NEA boss said sea level rise may initially favour the mobilization and export of nutrients from wetland sediments, but the same process could equally release pollutants into the aquatic ecosystem.

He added that loss of estuarine mangroves (important life cycle habitat, food and refuge for crustaceans, shellfish, oceanic nekton and marine mammals) could lead to the collapse of some pelagic fish  populations, threaten food security for a significant proportion of  Gambians and undermine the livelihood and traditional way of life of fisher-folk in the country.