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‘Gambia’s coastal and marine environment is seriously threatened by erosion’

Sep 3, 2015, 9:35 AM | Article By: Yai Dibba

The executive director of the National Environment Agency (NEA), Ndey Sireng Bakurin, has said the Gambia’s coastal and marine environment is seriously threatened by coastal erosion, sand mining and pollution.

The rate of erosion of the Gambian coastline has been estimated to be 1-2 metres per year amounting to all land loss averaging of 2.5-3 0ha of land per year or 200,000-300,000 m3 per year, and has serious implications for the economy of the country.

The NEA official was speaking at the coastal and marine national actors’ consultative platform held at the Baobab Holiday Resort recently.

According to Mrs Bakurin, the Gambia government has introduced the Gambia Incorporated Vision 2020 development programme, in which it commits itself to conserve and promote the rational use of the national natural resources and the environment for the benefit of present and future generations, in a manner that is consistent with the overall goal of sustainable development at all levels.

She noted that Vision 2020 is in harmony with the Gambia environment action plan, other natural resource sector policies, as well as the MEAS such as the post-Rio convention to which The Gambia is a party.

According to her, The Gambia with a coast line of about 80km along the Atlantic Ocean, from the mouth of the Allahein River in the south 130 4N to Buniadu Point in the North, has several coastal and marine habitats of high ecological importance.

The Gambia’s coast is one of its principal natural resources, she said, adding that tourism, one of the driving forces of the country’s economy depends to a large extent on the coast.

Mrs Bakurin said marine and coastal environment issues do not have boundaries for environmental problem.

One problem created by one country may affect its neighbours, she said, adding that a large polluted river entering a semi-enclosed sea, may cause environmental degradation to many countries bordering that sea.

Therefore, she added, coastal and marine environmental problems could be dealt with only through cooperation between countries sharing the same body of waters.

She said one of the key challenges for all of them is to strengthen the linkages, so that their decision could be guided by their understanding of the problems they are facing and the solutions available.

“We strongly believe that through dialogue and sharing of experience in gatherings such as this forum, we will be able to redefine our approach, realign our force, redirect our effort for the protection and sustainable management of our coastal and marine environment,” she noted.

In his statement, Lamin Jawara, the deputy permanent secretary Ministry of Environment, Forestry, Parks and Wildlife, Climate Change, said the overall objective of the coastal and marine national actor consultation platform in The Gambia is to promote the sustainable and integrated management of coastal and marine environment for the well-being of the communities.

He said the damage of the coastal area as result of the removal of beach sand for construction is a serious environmental concern.

According to DPS Jawara, the erosion along the coastal line had also resulted into the encroachment of the sea on historic sites and commercial business such as Cape Point to Banjul Dockyard, Cape Point to Bald, Bald Point to Allahern River in south and some parts of the northern coastal area around Barra.

Barthelemy Batieno, operations and partnership coordinator, said the aim of the platforms was to strengthen the dialogue between actors on national environmental issues.

“It is about building a permanent and functional framework for consultation and exchange of national actor institutions, organizations of civil society, and the marine area,” he said.