By Tabora Bojang
A five day sub-regional workshop on sustainable management of wetlands and floods hosted by the Department of Parks and Wildlife opens in Banjul Monday.
The Workshop was organised under Phase II of the Sustainable Management of Wetlands and Floods for Enhancing Food Security and Ecosystem Resilience in West Africa” (GDZHAIO) project.
The project is being implemented in 8 West African countries and executed by; the Geographical Institute Burkina Faso (IGB), the University Center for Research and Application in Remote Sensing (CURAT, Côte d’Ivoire), Department of Parks and Wildlife Management (DPMW, Gambia), Center for Remote Sensing and Geographic Information Services (CERSGIS, Ghana), Center for Observation, Monitoring and Environmental Information (COSIE, Guinea), National Directorate of Water and Forests (DNEF, Mali), Directorate of Wildlife, Hunting, Parks and Reserves (DFCPR, Niger) and Directorate of National Parks (DPN, Senegal).
The convergence brought together coastal and marine experts, policy makers, coastal water resources experts and researchers to discuss, exchange knowledge and best practices and formulate strategies for sustainable management of wetlands in the sub-region.
The Gambian Minister of Environment Rohey John Manjang in a statement read on her behalf at the opening ceremony, stressed that in view of the environmental and societal threats faced by West African countries, wetland monitoring and flood risk forecasting are becoming pressing urgent necessities that call for more rationale unified, efficient and sustainable management methods based on scientific evidence.
She expressed optimism that the project will help inform and strengthen decision making mechanisms, legislation, codes of conduct and methods for wetlands and flood risk management.
Director of Parks and Wildlife Management Momodou Lamin Kassama said the impacts of the ongoing war in Ukraine has provided lessons for African countries to strengthen collaborative efforts to protect and preserve our invaluable wetlands to help enhance food security.
Director Kassama lamented that despite the immense ecological and socioeconomic value of wetlands, they face numerous challenges such as habitat destruction, pollution, climate change and unsustainable agricultural practices that have contributed to the degradation and loss of our vital ecosystem. “This project was conceived as a collaborative platform to address some of these challenges and foster sustainable management practices. Let us approach the workshop with a sense of purpose and enthusiasm and share our common vision of safeguarding our wetlands for future generations.
The deputy director of the Ecological Monitoring Centre CSE a Senegalese environmental institution, Dr. Taibu Bah called for more regional collaboration to tackle hindrances in the sustainable management of natural resources, pointing out that countries in the sub-region faces common challenges in their commitment towards food security, climate change mitigations and protection of the eco-system.