By Olimatou Coker
The Young Volunteers for the Environment (YVE) in partnership with Gambia Environmental Alliance, Women and Children Aid- The Gambia (WoCAG) dubbed Banjul Climate Caravan Tuesday engaged indigenous groups and stakeholders of the West Coast Region on climate change funded by Oxfam International.
The meeting was attended by WCR stakeholders and indigenous groups such as farmers, gardiners, and fishermen among others.
The caravan aims to organize mass mobilization of citizens including regional stakeholders and indigenous groups across the country demonstrating solidarity with victims of climate change, showing how everyone is affected by climate change, and demanding leaders address the climate crisis in an unprecedented way.
The team also engages indigenous groups to know how climate change is affecting them.
According to experts, climate change is aggravating making farming difficult due to flooding; saltwater inundation; cyclone damage; desertification and drought; and unseasonal and unpredictable weather.
These are being caused by excessive greenhouse gas emissions and unsustainable exploitation of natural resources particularly from the wealthy industrialized countries.
Fanta Darboe, communication specialist for YVE described climate change as a global concern, noting all countries are combating this catastrophe to save the world.
“Climate Change affects all but how it affects people varies; therefore, we deem it necessary to engage you (participants) to ensure we know how it is affecting you,” she said.
She said developed nations bear the responsibility for climate change but the poor in the Global South like the Gambia are bearing the burden and suffering of the menace.
“African countries are losing $20 billion yearly because of climate change. This means that the productive output of each African country is reduced by 5 to 15% every year,” she told participants.
The environmental activist said no single body can fight climate change alone; adding combating it is a collective responsibility.
“This why we deem it necessary to meet you so as to know how the climate change is affecting you,” she said.
Ousman Bojang, governor of WCR commended YVE for voluntarily embarking on such an initiative with the quest to know how the menace affects the lives and livelihood of people.
He described efforts of achieving climate justice as a universal goal set, saying this is the only way the disadvantaged parts of the world like the Gambia will have a just division, fair sharing, and equitable distribution of benefits.
“The role of regional and local governments is key to any national and international climate policy. For any climate action to make a strong impact in any society, using the potential of the regional and local knowledge cannot be underestimated,” he said.
Governor Bojang said with proper planning and coming up with solutions, regional governors can have a great impact on policies that will influence the central government and those actions can influence the international stakeholders.
In his presentation, Salman Demba, NEA regional coordinator for the WCR said there is a greater need for all to combat climate change as well keep the environment clean and hygienic.
“We should not throw waste within our surroundings, most especially plastic bags,” he said while urging all to manage their waste properly to avoid environmental hazards in society.
Isatou F Cham, a gardener who participated in the forum, said climate change has drastically affected gardeners. She noted that sometimes their vegetable would not germinate as expected due to climate change.
Borry Ceesay, also a participant called for attitudinal change with regard to deforestation, saying people often cut trees without replacing them.
She said there is a need for people to stop deforestation but added if done, they should be replaced with young ones.
“Let’s plant more trees to make our survival easier,” he said.