By Saikou Suwareh Jabai
The Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Fisheries, Mr. Abdoulie T. B. Jarra, revealed that a Vulnerability Assessment Study on the economies of countries, particularly on the impact of climate change on fisheries, ranked The Gambia 32nd among 132 highly vulnerable countries in the world.
Mr. Jarra said Gambia, Senegal and Sierra Leone are typical examples of countries in West Africa with significant contributions to the fisheries sector in terms of socio-economic development and poverty reduction. He said production among these countries have witnessed a reduction in fish stocks and which have been attributed to climate change.
The fisheries permanent secretary made these remarks at the end of the recently concluded sub-regional workshop on the Technical Cooperation Programme project (TCP/SFW/3403) – ‘Support for sustainable climate change adaptation in marine artisanal fisheries in West Africa’, which was held at the Paradise Suites Hotel.
He said the Gambia is in the heart of fishing activities in the sub-region whose fishing communities share the same concerns and constraints confronted by the sector which is especially vulnerable to risks of impoverishment and other various maritime climate change risks related to sanitary practices and loss livelihoods. The TCP, he said, attempts to address some of these challenges, particularly, the adverse impact of climate change.
For her part, the Country Representative of the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), Mrs. Perpetua Katepa Kalala, said the TCP was designed to support and promote climate change adaptation among value chain actors in selected artisanal fisheries communities in Sierra Leone, Senegal and Gambia with a total budget of USD 318272. She said the goal of the project was to address, amongst others, climate change issues that threaten the artisanal fisheries sector in the targeted countries and thereby sustain and improve the livelihood of the targeted beneficiaries. She added that the overall objective of the two year project was to enhance the resilience and adaptive capacity of fisheries livelihoods to climate change impacts and risk on artisanal marine fisheries communities in these three countries.
“The objective of the project was aimed to be achieved through key results centred on the facilitation of communities and stakeholders understanding of climate change impacts and vulnerabilities, institutional and stakeholder capacity building and enhancing of skills for better fisheries resource utilisation and management and promotion of climate change adaptation, such as through fishery-based livelihood diversification,” said the FAO Rep.
She concluded that historical adaptation strategies, such as migration along the coast as well as fishing harder, deeper, and farther from shore, hitherto adopted by fishing dependent communities to the effects of climate change, are being eroded due to increasing coastal and riparian populations, reduced fish catch rates, institutional barriers as well as increasing adverse effects of climate change posing multiple risks to these fishing dependent communities.
Also speaking at the sub-regional convergence was the interim Executive Director of the West African Rural Foundation, Dr. Mohamed Kebbeh, who said there is no doubt that climate change poses significant threat to key development objectives in Africa. He said the recently completed COP21 Summit in Paris is a clear manifestation of the recognition of this challenge and the management of the internal community to addressing climate change globally.
Dr. Kebbeh noted that the key challenge now is to put in place options and operational mechanisms for addressing climate change and enhancing livelihood of Africans for addressing climate change. The project, he added, adds value by providing a framework and mechanism for working with communities and diverse actors committed to development objectives of the continent in general and climate change in particular.