By Awa Macalo
The International Organisation for Migration Gambia in partnership with the Ministry of Environment, Climate Change and Natural Resources, has validated a study on vulnerabilities caused by climate change, existing adaptation practices and mobility impacts of environmental degradation and climate change in The Gambia.
This study was done under the framework of the project “Building Evidence and Enhancing Capacity to Formulate Policy Responses on Environmental Migration in The Gambia.”
The national program coordinator at IOM, Sukai B. Cham explained that it is part of the organisation’s mandate to provide policy, regulatory and operational guidance to governments and non-government organizations in matters related to migrant protection and assistance, labour and human mobility, immigration and border management.
“One may wonder why migration and climate change. IOM’s interest in the nexus between Migration, Environment, and Climate Change (MECC) stems from the recognition that human mobility, in both its forced and voluntary forms, is increasingly impacted by environmental and climatic factors and that migration in turn also impacts the environment.”
Sukai further highlighted that the main objectives of IOM and MECC initiatives are to find solutions:
“For people to stay – to prevent forced migration that results from environmental factors to the extent possible.
Finding solutions for people on the move – to provide assistance and protection to affected populations when forced migration does occur, and to seek durable solutions to their situation.And Finding solutions for people to move – to facilitate migration in the context of climate change adaptation and enhance the resilience of affected communities.”
Alpha Jallow from the Ministry of Environment said climate change has become a threat to social coherence and sustained development, particularly in the developing world.
“These threats come as risks and impacts that affect not only the production sectors, but also exacerbate increased migration both within and out of the country, particularly the youths. Several vulnerability assessment studies were carried out in the country, but very limited or none was ever done in relation to migration.”
“The Gambia continues to experience changes in temperatures, precipitation patterns, frequent and severe weather events, etc. Climate change and environmental degradation-induced migration, particularly from rural to urban areas, are showing an increase in rate and distribution of geographic coverage.
The Government of The Gambia is cognizant of the risks climate change and environmental degradation poses to lives, livelihoods, and settlements. As such, the government is working closely with development partners to strengthen the resilience and adaptation of vulnerable communities and groups, particularly women. This initiative by will enhance the collaboration between Government and IOM and we look forward to more strengthened partnership to address climate and environmental-related challenges in The Gambia.”