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NEA sensitizes regional TAC members on NEMA and Environment laws

Dec 6, 2019, 1:39 PM | Article By: Sheikh Alkinky Sanyang

Over 80 regional Technical Advisory Committee (TAC) members in the Lower River, North bank, Central River and Upper River Region were recently sensitised on the 1994 National Environment Management Act (NEMA) by the National Environment Agency (NEA).

The activity was conducted during a nationwide sensitisation targeted to safeguard environmental sustainability to meet the needs of the present generation without compromising the ability of the future generations.

The 1994 NEMA Act is an overarching legal framework for environmental management in The Gambia that creates institutional structures and incorporate international standard principles for environmental management.

In his sensitisation lectures at all the regions, NEA`s program officer on environmental policies and legislation, Lamin Samateh said NEMA aims to assure all persons living in The Gambia, the fundamental right to an environment that is adequate for their health and well-being, ensure the integration of environmental considerations in all development strategies, related activities and to conserve and promote the rational use of natural resources for the benefit of present and future generations.

Mr Samateh pointed out that this environmental tool is designed to protect and improve the health and quality of life of all Gambians through sound environmental management, and to preserve and restore the equilibrium of ecological processes in accordance with the Banjul Declaration of 18th February 1977.

He told the gatherings that, increased public environmental awareness, promotion of effective public participation and community involvement are essential to environmental management and it is also desirous to prevent pollution and where it occurs, to ensure that the true and total costs of environmental pollution are borne by the polluter in accordance with the polluter pay’s principle.

According to him, The Gambia is committed to promote international co-operation in the protection of the environment by implementing its international commitments, saying one of NEMA`s duty is to maintain a decent environment where every person shall have a duty to maintain and enhance the quality of the environment. This includes the duty to inform the Agency of activities that affect or are likely to adversely affect the environment.

He said the Agency may petition the Attorney General and request him to bring a public interest action if a person have adversely affected or is likely to adversely affect the environment, likewise every person shall have the capacity to bring a public interest action to protect the environment provided that the authorisation of the Attorney General for such action is first obtained.

Commenting on the functions of the local environment committees, Mr Samateh reiterated that they can integrate environmental considerations into all plans, projects, and strategies of the Area, City or Municipal Councils and co-ordinate the activities of the Agency relating to the management of the environment and natural resources within their jurisdiction.

he said the Agency can also initiate and promote by-laws related to the environment to be adopted by the various municipalities, co-ordinate with the Agency and other ministries dealing with the environment; and co-ordinate the village or ward environment Committees to integrate the views of the public through wide consultation. 

On village and ward environment committees, Mr Samateh explained that the committees shall carry out public education campaigns, encourage public participation in making decisions about the environment, mobilize people within their jurisdiction on the basis of voluntary self-help to identify and restore degraded resources, introduce and popularize environmentally sound methods of land use, and report any activity deleterious to the environment to public officers.