Posted - 27 Jan 2021 : 18:30:24
By Ismail Sarr
I have been reading a paper titled Climate Change and Development in the Gambia whose authors are our very own
Malanding S.Jaiteh, PhD Geographic Information Specialist
Center for International Earth Science Information Network (CIESIN)
The Earth Institute, Columbia University
International College of Business and Human Resource Development (ICOBAHRD)
Kanifing, The Gambia
Abdoulie A. Danso
Natural Resource Management Expert and Deputy Permanent Secretary
Ministry of Agriculture, Banjul, The Gambia
Pa Ousman Jarju
Department of Water Resources
Banjul, The Gambia.
In the process I have discovered very useful information which I believe all Gambians who are concern about our environment, and the challenges of climate change should know about. It is an academic paper in a Pdf format which will be too big to share here in a day. I found it on Google and everyone can access this valuable academic material. I hope the authors wouldn't mind me sharing a chapter or two twice a week, so that young Gambians can digest the information and understand their ecosystem and its challenges comprehensively. It is a scientific paper, but it is easy to disgest. The last time I was expose to some of these information about the Gambia was in high school geography and agriculture science classes. Many of Gambians are globetrotters and our children born and raised outside of the Gambia. Many young Gambia going to school today I the Gambia are not privileged with such lessons today. I hope that my sharing these very interesting and resourcesful chapters together we will understand the challenges we are facing as a nation thanks to these sons of the Gambia mentioned above.
Today I will share the Executive summary. I strongly believe that if we are going to wage a strong resistance against these "environmental terrorists" destroying our ecosystem for profits, we must first understand the geography of the Gambia, and our challenges in relations to climate change. This paper to me is the Bible of the Gambia Environment and more. I hope those of us who are interested in protecting the environment for future generations, or in our well being, or saving our biodiversity and animal species or stopping what a member of this forum called " Environmental Genocide" will find time to accompany us in this exercise every week. It is going to be educational and exciting read trust me. The paper definitely not a boring read. If anything it will make us renew our vows with mother along the way. (Thanks to Jaiteh, Sarr, Danso and Jarju for this brilliant academic work). In this day and age for those of us living in lands which scientists labelled as highly vulnerable to climate change, information is our weapon against these live threatening challenges. One does not have to be a student at a university to search for this type of academic paper nor does one have to be a scientist. As far as you concern yourself a patriot and a good citizen of the world, climate change should be your concern. Protecting put environment should be a national duty for every citizen who cares about his or her well being and that your fellow citizen.
Occupying a total area of 11,300 sq km, with a population density of 130 persons per sq km, The Republic of the Gambia is one of the most densely populated countries on continental Africa. Because The Gambia possesses only minimal commercial mineral resources and manufacturing sector, agriculture is the primary source of livelihood for many Gambians, employing more than 68% of the workforce and accounting for about 40% of the Gambia’s export earnings contributing about 26% of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP). Agriculture is predominantly subsistence and rain-fed with farmers relying on traditional shifting cultivation and livestock
management practices. Over the last fifty years cropland area increased from under 100,000ha to over 300,000 at the expense of natural woodland and wetland ecosystems.
Over 51% of The Gambia’s population resides in urban areas. Driven by variable and degrading climate, decline in agricultural productivity in rural areas, and changes in economic activity(tourism, petty trade and small scale manufacturing) in the ecologically favorable West Coast Region, urban population has increased from 110,000 in 1973 to 680,000 in 2003. Between 1980 and 2001, built-up area in the Gambia has increased from 2,725ha to more than 19,000 ha with over 50% of the increase occurring in Kombo (KMC and the districts of Kombo).
The Gambia’s climate is Sahelian characterized by high variability in the amount and distribution of annual precipitation. Analysis of long-term climate data shows that the past 50 years have seen a decrease in total amount of precipitation, length of rainy season, and increase in length and frequency of extreme weather events such as droughts and dust storms .The low-lying topography, combined by high dependence on subsistence rain-fed agriculture and inadequate drainage and storm water management system in a context of rapidly expanding un-regulated urban expansion has placed the Gambia among those countries most vulnerable to climate change.
This study examines threats associated with anthropogenic climate change; vulnerable ecosystems and ecosystem services; and examines how to integrate responses to climate change and adaptation measures into strategies for poverty reduction, to ensure sustainable development. Key findings of the study are summarized below.
CLIMATE CHANGE CHALLENGES
This study reveals apaucity of literature on anthropogenic climate change and impacts on both the ecosystems and human wellbeing lacking in the Gambia. The G C M projections of future climate in the Gambia reported into the First National Communication and referenced by many others are based on just one analysis. The analysis indicated that average temperature in the Gambia will increase between 3 and 4.5 Celsius, bringing with it an increase in potential evapotranspiration by the year 2075. With respect to projected rainfall, G C M model outcomes vary widely between-59% and + 29% of the 1951-1990 average of 850 mm per annum (GOTG2003).
Regional GCM analyses comparing Surface Air Temperature (SAT) to those of the surrounding oceans projected annual rainfall to increase between 25% and 50% across the Sahara by 2080 ( Haarsm, Selten et tal 2005).
The general findings of the First National Communication analysis include increased upstream migration of salt water, increased salinization of coastal ecosystems, reduction in yield of major crops and receding coastline. Overall predicted climate change and variability will present important short-term and long-term challenges to development efforts in the Gambia. In the short-term
extreme climate events including windstorms, rainstorms, droughts and dust storms will become more frequent with increased severity. Land use and land cover change, sea level rise, and coastal erosion present significant long-term challenges.
Are common phenomena in the Gambia, particularly at the beginning and towards the end of the rainy season. Overall wind storms account for most damage to properties in rural areas. As woodland degradation and land use changed enude the landscape, windstorms could become even more severe, resulting in even greater loss of life and property.
Floods and storm water run off are most common in urban areas. In adequate storm water management systems and lack of adherence to land use zoning regulations have increased the frequency ands severity of flooding in urban areas and the resulting loss of human life and property damage they cause. Although catastrophic seasonal floods are rare in the Gambia, the risk so fare nevertheless present. As extreme weather events become more frequent due to climate unimagined consequences.
Sea level rise and coastal erosion.
Present serious long-term challenges to Gambia’s development. There is consensus that climate change could result in up to 1m rise in the sea level. The Gambia is primarily low-lying and a 1m rise in sea level could potentially inundate over 8% of the country’s land area. This includes over 61% of current mangroves, 33% of swamps, and over 20% of current lowland rice growing areas. The inundation could effectively drown over 50% of the capital city of Banjul (rendering it virtually uninhabitable) and the towns of Barra, Jangjabureh and Kuntaur, together with the Port of Banjul, all ferry terminals, and harbour landings along the River Gambia. Sea level rise could result in the salinization of shallow coastal aquifers, the primary source of portable water for the urban Gambia. Impacts of sea level rise would be compounded by coastal erosion along the 80km coastline, with potentially negative effects on the tourism industry, which is critical to the economy of the Gambia.
One of the major challenges posed by future global climate change in the western Sahel region in general and The Gambia in particular is increased frequency and severity of drought events. Direct impacts of frequent persistent droughts include ecosystem desiccation through increased salinization in fresh water wetland and mangrove ecosystems, loss of productivity in croplands, saltwater intrusion up the river, deforestation, and loss of productivity and biodiversity in woodland ecosystems as a result of wildfires and land use change. More than 99% of croplands in the Gambia are entirely rain-fed. Despite efforts to introduce bearly-maturing crop varieties and institute sustainable water management practices, crop production is still very vulnerable to persistent droughts.
Let us be grateful to the authors listed Jaiteh, Sarr, Danso and Jarju.
A clear conscience fears no accusation - proverb from Sierra Leone