By: Sheikh Alkinky Sanyang
The Executive Director of the National Environment Agency has revealed that Waste management is a common problem in the Gambia due to its numerous related problems.
She also noted that the Government of the Gambia is committed to addressing this situation by intensifying its efforts towards finding a lasting solution for the country`s waste management problem.
Ndey Siren Bakurin made these remarks during a presentation of assorted cleansing materials recently donated by the NEA to the Governor`s office and the NEA`s regional office in Kerewan, North Bank Region. She noted that plastic waste and other biodegradable materials are becoming more prominent in the Gambia in recent years. Improperly managed solid waste, she noted, poses a risk to human health and the environment. Uncontrolled dumping and improper handling of waste causes a variety of problems, including contaminating water, attracting insects and rodents, and increasing flooding due to blocked drainage canals or gullies, she pointed out.
Ndey Siren Bakurin however reminded the gathering that the donation of the cleansing equipment is in response to the clarion call of the President to support the implementation of the monthly Operation Clean the Nation (OCN) dubbed Set-Setal,
She said the environment being the driving force for any socio-economic development of any region or country, the provision of these cleansing materials to their regional stakeholders would help boost the morale of the monthly cleansing activity that is mostly carried by institutions and folk organizations that normally need tools to embark on this monthly exercise. For the fact that environmental issues are paramount to any sustainable development agenda as it is a cross cutting issue, this gesture, she said, will go a long way in helping nurture the President’s initiative.
The effects of inadequate waste management, she noted, continue to affect not only inhabitants of the Greater Banjul Area, but that the effects are now becoming apparent in our growth centers including Farafenni, Barra and Essau in the North Bank Region. She further disclosed that the Government of the Gambia is always committed to addressing this problem. “This is the reason why the President who also doubles as the chairman of the National Environment Management Council (NEMC) initiated the monthly Operation Clean the Nation (OCN) and the introduction of the Anti-Littering Regulation in order to increase awareness on the importance of a healthy and clean environment,” the NEA Executive Director posited.
As part of activities to improve waste management in the country, a nationwide mapping of waste dumpsites was done this year covering 96 dumpsites throughout the country that are identified to have potential to cause high or severe flood with 70% of all dumpsites visited situated in wetlands, drainages, gullies, gutters, depression and water ways posing high potential environmental risks. The NEA boss revealed that it is high time to prioritize the improvement and development of sustainable waste management system that would reduce the risk of environmental hazards.
Mrs. Bakurin further announced that starting from the month of October 2014, OCN would now be observed twice in every month (2nd & 4th Saturdays) as revealed by an executive directive. She however asserts that in this changing world we live, working together in collaboration with all stakeholders is essential as we live in this great world of dependency. “We need to adopt more environmentally friendly life styles in an effort to reduce, re-use and recycle waste as a first step towards waste management,” she disclosed.
In receiving the items, the Governor of NBR, Lamin Queen Jammeh applauded the NEA for what he described as a benevolent gesture that will go a long way in helping them in their day to day strive to clean the environment. He said the environment belongs to all of us and therefore everyone should partake in its maintenance.
Governor Jammeh called on the citizenry of NBR to utilize the donated materials judiciously and for the purpose it is meant for.
Alh. Lamin Ceesay, Chairman of Kerewan Area Council called on the people of NBR to take ownership of their environment and never ever wait to be told to clean their surroundings. As NEA brought these cleansing materials to our doorsteps, he said, this is one of the greatest motivations one can offer support to regional government establishments in the maintenance of their dear environment.
Other personalities present were the Deputy Governor of NBR, Mustapha Saidy, and the Chief of Lower Badibou District, Faballa Kinteh.