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Minister Sillah on threat of climate change

Dec 8, 2009, 1:43 PM | Article By: Lamin B. Darboe

The entire city of Banjul would be completely inundated and rendered totally inhabitable with only 1metre rise in sea level due to the impacts of climate change, says Mr. Jatto Sillah, the Minister of Forestry and Environment.

In a statement read on his behalf by Mr. Lamin Nyabally, the Permanent Secretary at the same ministry during the launch of the Human Development Report Youth Version on climate change (2008), Mr. Sillah stated that climate change and variability would have significant social impacts on the livelihoods of most Gambians. These, he added, include that dependent on tourism, fisheries and agriculture.

"Being a low-lying country, it has been projected that there will be a loss of more than 40 million square metres of land in The Gambia's coastal zone with a 0.5m rise in sea level," he said.

According to Minister Sillah, "with a highly erratic rainfall pattern predicted as a possible impact of climate change in The Gambia, our agricultural output would consequently be severely affected as well.

?Under the PRSP, agriculture is considered the backbone of the Gambian economy. We all know that agriculture in The Gambia is rain-fed. Without reliable rainfall, the national economy would be totally disrupted, not to mention the threat to food security for the vast majority of Gambians," he noted.

The Forestry and Environment Minister revealed that climate change is global, and indeed a national concern for The Gambia. The predicted impacts of climate change, he added, are already well documented and accepted by most people.

"We already know that the high concentration of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere caused by man-made activities is the principal driver of climate change," he said, adding that climate change, youth activism and volunteerism have clear linkages.

Dilating on the world climate summit, which is currently underway in Copenhagen, Denmark, Minister Sillah stated that African countries are demanding up to 40% emission reductions against 1990 emission levels.

"Our African common position is that although mitigation efforts are important but our highest priority in Africa is adaptation," he said.

Despite this, he went on, there are a number of actions that can be taken by youths at national level to mitigate the impacts of climate change through volunteerism.

He further stated that there are a number of actions that can be taken by youths at the national level to mitigate the impacts of climate change through volunteerism, adding that with growing access to internet, today's youths are better informed about world events than before.

Other speakers included Janice James, Economic Advisor for UNDP, who spoke on behalf of the UNDP Resident Representative in The Gambia, Ms. Chinwe Dike, Alagie Manjang from the Department of Parks and Wild Life Management and Ansumana K. Jarjue from NARI.