It is projected that a rise in sea level of one meter will result in inundation of an area of about 92 kilometer-square in the coastal zone, including the capital city of Banjul, said Francis Leity Mboge, the Minister for Works, Constructions and Infrastructures.
The minister made this remarks yesterday at Kairaba hotel, during an inception workshop on project preparatory grant on ‘Enhancing resilience for vulnerable coastal areas and communities to climate change in The Gambia’, organized by the United Nations Development Programmes (UNDP) in close partnership with the department of Water Resources.
The project is mean to help mitigate the country’s vulnerability to climate change by improving coastal defenses and enhancing adaptive capacities of coastal communities.
For the minister not only settlements will be eroded, also 60% of mangrove forest, 33% of swamp areas and 20% of rice fields will be lost.
As a result, this will lead to a decrease in rice production and impede the objectives of one of the country’s blueprint that targets 70, 000 metric tons of rice on yearly basis.
“Climate change scenarios for the country indicate that the climate variability currently being experienced is likely to increase and intensify. Droughts, floods and storms are likely to increase, in both frequency and intensity. Precipitation level and patterns are likely to change. In coastal areas, sea level rise and rising sea temperatures will lead to saltwater intrusion, floods and coastal erosion.
“This constitutes a significant threat to the country because important economic activities such as tourism and fisheries are located in the coastal zones. This destruction of human infrastructure and destabilization of rich eco-systems from higher sea levels could be very significant, and result in serious damage and affect the livelihoods of those engaged in these activities,” he said.
Ousman Jarju, director of water resources and the United Nation Framework Convention on Climate Change’s (UNFCCC) focal point, said in 2010, UNDP helped the
Gambia developed the said project with an amount of 8.9 million US Dollar.
Whilst he said the project will be executed by the National Environment Agency (NEA) in partnership with the department of agriculture and fisheries, and UNDP as the Global Environment Fund (GEF) implementing agency, he also stated the three components of the project: policy and institutional development for climate risk management in coastal zone; physical investments in coastal protection against climate change; and strengthening livelihoods of coastal communities at risk from climate change.
“It is also gratifying to note that this project is the largest NAPA project to be funded under the LDCF [Least Development Country Fund] so far and all eyes are on the Gambia. I am confident that with determination, strong resolve to meeting our Vision 2020 and PAGE objectives, we will prepare the project document and implement it successfully.”
“Studies both in Gambia and abroad have shown that climate change will have significant consequences on coastal regions, especially low-lying coasts with their mangrove ecosystems like we have in Gambia,” said, Izumi Morota-Alakija, UNDP deputy resident representative.
Modou B Sarr, NEA, also added a tone on the effect of climate change on the country: “climate change affecting this vital area will certainly endanger our survival as a nation.”