Services on halt at NATC as climate change wreaks havoc

Sep 27, 2021, 12:15 PM | Article By: Bekai Njie

All public activities at the Njawara Agricultural Training Centre (NATC) have been put on stand till following a heavy windstorm that struck the country on 7 July 2021.

Established in 1990 as a Community Based Organisation (CBO), NATC has been operating as a fully fledged NGO since October 1997, with a total land area of six hectares suitable for agricultural production. 

The center’s source of funding depends on proposal marketing as all their projects are geared towards climate change mitigation mainly funded by EU, UNDP, Action Aid and JEF project.

President Adama Barrow visited the place a day after the incident to see for himself the scale of the damage and pledged his government’s support to the institution.

The centre lost two of its solar panels to the windstorm and they haven’t still recovered them. “We searched everywhere but we couldn’t see them,” said Mama M.K. Manneh, centre director, in an interview with The Point.

The Gambia Red Cross Society did an assessment on the scale of the damage and found out that about D1.6 million had perished on infrastructure. “This does not include our office appliances like laptops and desktops,” Mr. Manneh said.

“It has made us not to accept any training of our beneficiaries because all the dormitories have been damaged and so we cannot bring farmers here to suffer.”

“The 8 July was slated for the training of women and because they didn’t hear about the news, when they came here, some of them were crying upon seeing the level of devastation,” Director Manneh said, adding this is the difference between the centre before and after.

“This led to the cancellation of that particular training and causing setback for the centre.”

Sulayman Ceesay, a staff of the centre expressed similar views, saying this kind of destruction was never expected at NATC as it was surrounded by trees in large quantities.

The International Trade Center at the YEP office in The Gambia has also assessed the scale of the damage and they pledged to rehabilitate one of the dormitories with a water tank, bakery and solar facilities among others.

The centre’s vehicles and motorcycles were also trapped in debris of fallen trees and removing them had caused D25,000, according to Mr. Manneh.

“The wind storm destroyed our roofs and killed two people. A child of Kebba Saine died and his wife got her leg broken,” narrates Aji Haddy Panneh, the alkalo (head) of the village

“Some are still admitted by the Kerewan Health Center. Jim Mbackeh Fanneh’s 24-year-old died during the storm because a building fell on him.”

 Mama Jamba, a poultry farmer said she lost significant number of chickens to the windstorm, although she could not tell the exact number of chickens she had before the storm.

“A building fell on my poultry house and that led to its collapse. I spent a lot of money on my poultry farm only to endure such suffering. Imagine I had to buy a chick for D100 and feeding is very expensive,” she said, claiming their feeding is  Imported from Dakar, Senegal. Haddy Panneh also endured similar fate.