Madam Jammeh, who was accompanied by senior government officials, joined students, voluntary organisations and other community members in cleaning a large area at the Tanji beach shore, picking up plastics and other waste products.
The cleaning exercise is part of activities marking Earth Day, an annual event, celebrated on every April 22 with events worldwide held to demonstrate support for environmental protection.
In her short remarks, the First Lady called on students and environment workers to be committed and resilient in keeping a healthy, clean environment.
She said: “We have to start [the work] today and continue. The point of being here together is to do [environment cleaning] something and keep on doing it every day. Nobody lives in a home that is dirty. If we treat our country like our own home, we will have a wonderful home. Let us clean our environment. Thank you for working so hard. Let us keep up the good work. This is our home and we should keep it clean, always.”
She later added on her Facebook page: “We rely heavily on our earth to survive, let us return the favour. Let us work together to protect and promote the environment. Let us work together to preserve energy and save water.”
On his part, the minister of Tourism, Benjamin Roberts defined the cleaning exercise as the “bread and butter” of tourism, maintaining that clean beaches mean Tourists would enjoy their holiday in The Gambia.
He said: “I think from the cleaning exercise we have seen some of the challenges that we are confronted with in terms of keeping the beach clean and I think the initiative is in the right direction and we are appreciative of the initiative.”
Minister Roberts said “prevention is better than cure” and that beach users should also be enlightened on the importance of maintaining a clean environment.
The permanent secretary at the Ministry of Environment, Water and Wildlife, Ousman Sowe said: “It is the business of everybody to have a very clean environment. Once people commit themselves to cleaning their environments, you can be sure the environment will be clean. The environment doesn’t pollute itself, for many a time it’s us who pollute the environment. Once we take the commitment by ourselves, starting from our homes, at our family levels, offices and everywhere we are in knowing that we are responsible for the environment and take that commitment to building that attitude towards keeping the environment clean, it will surely be clean.”
Dawda Ceesay, the deputy permanent secretary- technical -at the Ministry of Health, echoed similar comments and urged Gambians to be patriotic citizens.
The long hours exercise was also interspersed with cultural displays from women’s groups. The First Lady also interacted with students and later turned the forum into a question-and-answer session.
Earth Day was first celebrated in 1970, and is now coordinated globally by the Earth Day Network, and celebrated in more than 192 countries each year.
It could be recalled that the first Earth Day, 22nd of April, 20 million Americans took to the streets, parks, and auditoriums to demonstrate for a healthy, sustainable environment in massive coast-to-coast rallies. Thousands of colleges and universities organised protests against the deterioration of the environment. Groups that had been fighting against oil spills, polluting factories and power plants, raw sewage, toxic dumps, pesticides, freeways, the loss of wilderness, and the extinction of wildlife suddenly realised they shared common value.]]>