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Organisation launched to immortalise Sir Dawda Jawara’s legacy

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A group of Gambians from all walks of life have come together to establish an organisation geared towards immortalising former President Sir Dawda Jawara’s legacy.

The Kairaba Conservation and Leadership Organisation (KairaCLO) launched Tuesday, 16 May, at the International Conference Centre seeks to support the conservation and protection of Gambia`s environment through the implementation of the visionary characteristics of the Banjul Declaration.

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The organisation will also champion Jawara’s conservationist vision that led to the Banjul Declaration almost a century ago. The 1997 declaration makes a unique visionary appeal for the preservation of the environment, and the dwindling flora and fauna in the country. It was regarded as far sighted and uniquely prophetic but the realities of climate change today have vindicated Sir Dawda. Since 1977, The Gambia has lost some of its most precious animal and plant species and will continue to lose even more if conservation measures are not taken now and that makes the Banjul Declaration more relevant today than it was, forty-six years ago.

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The Economic Commission of West African States (Ecowas) recently described the Banjul Declaration as one of the most significant environmental/conservation pronouncements by an African leader, who had not only foreseen, but had warned of, a looming climatic catastrophe if mankind took no corrective action.

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In his own words in 1977, Sir Dawda said: “It would be tragic if our priceless natural heritage, the product of millions of years of evolution, was lost for want of proper attention”. Jawara has since spearheaded the re-forestation effort at Nyambai and ordered the establishment of National Forest Reserves in various parts of the country. He personally took part in tree-planting exercises along the dual-carriage way linking Yundum International Airport to the Brikama Highway.

The founders of KairaCLO, believe Jawara’s legacy should be upheld by all Gambians by – developing and organising programmes to inspire young men and women, to embrace the ideals of “Conservation Leadership”, and build the foundation for a strong, sustainable socio-economic and progressive society.

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In his welcoming remarks at the launching, the chairperson of KairaCLO, Almameh Fanding Taal, said the organisation comprises people of exceptional track record who decided to come together to keep Sir Dawda’s legacy alive.

Taal added that the organisation is a non-partisan and non-profit with the main purpose of contributing and participating in the conservation efforts going on around the country.

“We are morally obliged to never forget the conservation leadership vision of Sir Dawda. It is a duty we owe to ourselves, to our great African Heritage and to the world, to protect the wildlife still remaining with us,” Taal said.

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He added: “It is a tall order, but we in KairaCLO, are determined to work tirelessly and assiduously with every Gambian, and to forge strong international partnerships to protect our natural habitats, which are so vital for the survival of what still remains of our priceless natural heritage. We thank each and every one of you for your presence here today. Our special thanks goes to Her Excellency, Lady Chilel Jawara, who has graciously consented to accompany us on this historic journey. We would also like to thank her Excellency Fatou Bah Barrow, First Lady of The Gambia, for joining us here today, and we kindly invite her to also accompany us on this exciting journey.”

Ramzia Diab-Ghanem, deputy chairperson of KairaCLO said the organisation will help build capable citizenry and empower communities, through providing and coordinating opportunities and access to resources, leadership and management competency, specifically aligned to the learning and knowledge needs of citizens and community leaders.

“As a pan-African Centre of Excellence, KairaCLO wants to build and lead a network of thousand base partner institutes together as well as educate the world on the impact of climate change in development. Our mission is to distribute knowledge on conservation sustainability, climate change, and specifically adaptation in helping people to be aware of conservation and sustainability,” she said.

She said the organisation will create awareness of the development process of the nation and draw lessons from the nation’s history to enhance future development.

“It will also become the premier resource centre for the policies, strategies and initiatives adopted under Gambia’s first leaders which may be used and adapted by current and future generations and other developing nations. KairaCLO also has a broader objective to promote global understanding by providing a channel for scholars and thinkers to undertake research and idea-sharing for lasting, peaceful resolutions,” she said.

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The former ambassador and National Assembly member said it will facilitate understanding of inclusive conservation, people planet prosperity partnerships, become the local, national, and regional conservation and traditional knowledge centre of choice and promote diversity of ideas and thought, institutionalise a learning-by-doing methodology for improved conservation leadership practice and impact.

“It will ensure innovation and new technologies inform best practice in developing and implementing cutting edge conservation programmes,” she added.

For his part, the chairman of the Gambia environmental alliance (GEA), Momodou Inkeh Bah, said The Gambia has lost a lot of its wildlife pieces within a short period.

“The survival of the remaining wildlife and its preservation of the natural habitat is a service call on us, it is a tragedy waiting to unfold if we do not arise with preventive measures,” he said.

Bah said the partnership between GEA and KairaCLO in the environmental conservation methods will promote and preserve the country’s remaining flora and fauna.

The launching was attended by Lady Chilel Jawara, Fatou Bah Barrow, First Lady of The Gambia, environment minister, members of the diplomatic and consular Corps, politicians among others.  

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