FAO, DLS, NaLOA end national sensitization tour on bushfires

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By Ebrima Sowe,

FAO Communication and

Social Marketing Expert

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The rainy season in the Gambia ended a few months ago,  bushfires are anticipated in rural areas. Bushfires, set by farmers to clear land for cultivation may have a detrimental effect on the local ecosystem and the livelihoods. In response, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) through its  Adapting Agriculture to Climate Change Project (AACCP) and Agriculture for Economic Growth Project (AEGP)  joined forces with the Department of Livestock Services (DLS) and the National Livestock Owners Association (NaLOA) to launch a sensitization tour in North Bank Region (NBR), Central River Region (CRR), Upper River Region (URR) and Lower River Region (LRR) of the Gambia. The tour aims to raise awareness on the dangers of bush burning and encouraging alternative land management practices.

The tour began on January 13th and ended on January 22nd 2023 visited several villages.  Community members shared their concerns and experiences with bush burning. “Every year, the fires take away our grazing land, and our livestock suffer as a result,” said Alpha Mairam Khan, the Chief of Jakadou in one of the sensitization and awareness-raising sessions in Kuntaya of NBR. “We are happy that the FAO, DLS and NaLOA are here to educate our people on how to better manage our land and resources.”

Another farmer, Buba Sowe, spoke about the impact of bush burning on the environment: “The fires not only affect our livestock but also the wildlife; we must think about the future and how to preserve our natural resources for generations to come.”

The FAO and DoL provided information on alternative land management practices such as conservation agriculture, agroforestry and sustainable grazing. They also provided the communities with the necessary tools and equipment to implement these practices.

“Bush burning is a serious problem in Gambia, but it is also a problem that can be solved,” said FAO Livestock Expert, Mr. Philip Gomez. “By working together with the communities and providing them with the knowledge and tools they need, we can help them to protect their land and their livelihoods.”

The Deputy Director of the Department of Livestock Services, Mr. Emanuela Mendy, also added that, “It is important for the communities to understand that by protecting their land and natural resources of bushfires, they are also protecting their own livestock.”

FAO and the DoL efforts should not  only raise awareness but also lead to  changes in attitudes and practices towards bush burning and lead to a better environment and a better life.