By: Sheikh Alkinky Sanyang
The project “enhancing resilience of vulnerable coastal areas and communities to climate change”, is a four year project devised to enhance resilience of vulnerable coastal areas and communities to climate change and to reduce the country’s vulnerability to sea level rise. The alternative livelihood component of this NEA/UNDP/GEF Coastal Resilience project is striving to ease Climate stress in affected local coastal communities whose farmlands and rice fields are affected by the phenomenon of Climate Change.
One of the supports the project rendered to these affected local communities is the establishment of modern horticultural gardens for them as an alternative to the rice fields and farms in the wetland affected by salt intrusion. Each of these garden host to an over-head water tank with a capacity of over 15,000 cubic litres that will supply running water through laid-pipes to over fifteen reservoirs within the garden in an effort to provide easy access to water from any position in the garden.
The gardens are expected to serve these communities in both dry and raining season, as Water and security being major problems faced by most communities in the sustenance of any project is adequately addressed. In addition, all the gardens are fortified with modern fencing techniques that can serve the communities for the next thirty years.
The benefitting communities of the first phase of the project includes Touba-Kolong and Illiasa villages in the North Bank, Misira village in Lower River, Bondali-Tenda and Bintang villages in the West Coast Regions.
However, the effect and impact of salt intrusion as a result of climate change are serious and continue to affect livelihood support systems of these communities and has made them vulnerable to poverty, hunger and food insecurity. In some of these villages, mangroves and other forest species are dying at an alarming rate making access to fuel wood and aquatic species such as fish very difficult to get.
In some communities particularly the North Bank Region, other alternative income sources such as cashew and mango plantations are dying as a result of saline soils creeping into previously non affected areas near the coastline.
It`s from this back drop that the Project Steering Committee (PSC) of the NEA/UNDP/GEF project as mandated embarked on a field visit to the project sites to assess and monitor current status of the implementation of the fencing and overhead water tank constructions. Also, this gave them the opportunity as project decision makers to hand over the keys to the gardens to their respective communities marking the completion of the first part of their garden project.
Amidst jubilant, dancing and celebrating communities, the project entourage were well received in all the villages showing signs of relief of hardship they were going through in the past years. It’s just like an old adage; “all would want to be associated with good job” manifested in both the fencing and the water delivery systems, I believe was the reason why many of them joined the communities in dancing podium.
The team led by the DPS of the Ministry of Environment, Water, and Climate Change thanked the communities for taking ownership of the livelihood support initiative, noting that the project will go a long way in improving their nutritional status, economy, health and the environment.
Addressing communities before handing over their garden keys, Alieu Samba Nyang reiterated that the project aims to enhanced rural livelihoods in the coastal zone and protected them from the impacts of climate change through the demonstration and transfer of successful coastal adaptation technologies and the introduction of economic diversification.
Calling on the beneficiaries, DPS Nyang disclosed that in all the project livelihood support communities, the female population is highest for both the overall and youth populations as rural-urban migration of the male and youthful population for economic reasons takes it toll. He therefore urged them to utilize the facilities accordingly bearing in mind that such opportunities are rear to come by.
From the voices of the beneficiaries, Kaddy Jammeh, women development leader in Touba Kolong, Mariama Marong and Seyfo Ebrima Jammeh of Illiassa, Alkalo Landing Camara of Kiang Missira, Alkalo Ebrima Fatty of Bondali Tenda, Landing Ceesay and Bakary Ceesay of Bintang VDC all thanked the NEA, UNDP & GEF for such a life support protect that will set stage for improvement in all spheres of their lives.
Dodou Trawalley the project coordinator said all the credits go to his PSC, his team, the contractors and the communities for their dedication and commitments, noting that he is just a messenger between the office the project beneficiaries.
During the marathon tour of the project sites, the PSC also visited Tendaba village in the LRR and Senegambia beach area where coastal erosion has swallowed a greater portion of the coastline and is where the project will embark on soft/hard engineering construction and maintenance.