updated 6:40 PM MST, Dec 17, 2017
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NEA briefs Journalists on Plastic Bags Ban

The National Environment Agency recently briefed journalists on the Ban on Plastic Bags Order 2015. Speaking on the occasion, the Executive Director of National Environment Agency (NEA), Momodou J. Suwareh, said in The Gambia, plastic bags pollution was causing severe environmental and health damages through various pathways in the marine ecosystem.

He disclosed that plastic bags that find their way into water bodies cause the death of juvenile fish and other marine species by entanglement. On land, he added that plastic bags destroy soil structure by reducing aeration and root penetration, hence threatening soil fertility and crop production.

Mr Suwareh said in the livestock sector, plastic bags caused death of livestock when swallowed or ingested, hence, causing huge economic loss to farmers.

“These problems threaten among other things our food security,” he said, adding that the plastic bags do not decompose.

According to Mr. Suwareh, most plastic wastes find their way into gutters and waterways; hence, it causes blockage and subsequent flooding disaster.

He said when plastic bags are burnt, the process of burning releases dangerous chemicals such as dioxins and furans causing cancer, skin disease, eye cataract and respiratory problems.

Mr Suwareh added that plastic bags are often misused by putting hot foods like Ebbeh, Café Touba etc. adding that this causes the release of the chemical content of the plastic into the food, hence, causes long term health problems.

The Government of The Gambia joined the list of countries that banned plastic bags effective 1st July 2015, and prohibits the import and manufacture, sale and the use of the plastic bags.

He disclosed that the Ban on Plastic Bags Order 2015 is a legal document that prohibits the manufacture, import, sales and use of plastic bags in the country.

The Programme Officer for Environmental Education & Communication at the NEA, Sheikh Alkinky Sanyang, revealed that it was estimated that between 500 billion and 1 trillion plastic bags are used globally each year. 

Author: Yai Dibba

 

The Point Newspaper

 

Communities to take ownership of 38 state forests

The Ministry of Environment, Climate Change and Natural Resources and its line department would soon transfer 38 state forests to community ownership across the country.  

According to forestry officials, at least thirty-eight communities have been recommended to take ownership of their community forests.

Speaking to reporters, Cherno Gaye, head of the Participatory Unit at the Department of Forestry, said what the ministry and its line department are doing now was a process.

He said by Gazette, a notice book indicated that 38 communities that have been in the forest community management process are qualified to take over their community forest reserve.

According to Mr Gaye, before the handing over took place, there was a process and it had to pass through legal process, and now confirmed that all these communities are qualified to gain their community forest reserve.

Mr Gaye disclosed that those forest reserves are now declared in the gazette notices as community forests.

He thanked the Ministry of Justice and all others who have contributed in one way or the other in making the process to reach this stage.

“We are also encouraging those communities who are in the process to tell them that one day they will also gain their forest ownership,” he said.

Source: Abdoulie Nyockeh

 

The Point Newspaper

NDMA Celebrates Disaster Risk Reduction Day

The National Disaster Management Agency (NDMA), under the Office of the Vice-President over the weekend celebrated International Day of Disaster Risk Reduction.

The day is celebrated each year on 13th October worldwide and the theme for this year’s celebration is, “Home Safe Home: Reducing Exposure, Reducing Displacement.” The International Day for Disaster Risk Reduction is celebrated each year to promote the culture of disaster reduction, prevention, mitigation and preparedness.

The Governor of Lower River Region attended the event, held at Jarra in Soma Lower River Region, together with the chiefs of the area and the Minister of Environment, Climate Change and Natural Resources, who represented the Vice-President.

In his remarks at the occasion, the Minister of Environment, Climate Change and Natural Resources, Hon. Lamin Dibba said that The Gambia was vulnerable to a range of natural and human induced disasters; hence a national approach to managing risk was appropriate and necessary.

He said that as the country’s population grows, they have experienced an increase in the frequency, magnitude and impact of extreme weather conditions, such as drought and flood.

“Many waste products like glass, plastics, aluminium and paper could be recycled instead of being disposed off in the dustbin,” he pointed out, adding that this would prevent any air pollution accumulated through burning of these wastes.

“You can use towels and reusable bags rather than using disposal plastic bags that can block our water way, leading to flooding and consequent displacement of individuals and communities,” he explained.

According to the Minister, planting of food locally helps in reducing the overall commercial transportation of food items that requires pesticides and preservatives to preserve them.

“It is also a proven fact that organic food is more healthy than the one which is preserved by using harmful pesticides and chemicals, thereby, causing harm to the entire global ecosystem,” he said.

The Governor of LRR, Madam Fanta Samateh Bojang, disclosed that the National Disaster Management Agency (NDMA) has put in place a good number of measures that include, among others, developed crucial policy programmes, all geared towards addressing disaster mitigation, preparedness and response.

She said through effective coordination, collaboration, sensitisation and advocacy, the communities would be fully informed about the dangers associated with disasters.

The Executive Director of NDMA, Sanna Dahaba, also said that "Home Safe Home" is the slogan for this year’s celebration, adding that this was an opportunity to mobilise the world to strengthen collaboration with all stakeholders.

“We can reduce the risks that stem from rapid urbanisation, poverty, environmental deterioration and climate change,” he pointed out, adding that they need to avoid the creation of risks in the first place.

This, he further added, would require massive sensitisation, increased access to risk information and ability to identify community risks and build a culture of collective actions to improve resilience.

 

Author: Abdoulie Nyokeh

 

The Point Newspaper

NEA Validates Mercury Inventory Report

The National Environment Agency, in collaboration with the Ministry of Environment, Climate Change and Natural Resources recently validated the Mercury Inventory Report under the umbrella of the Minamata Convention at the Baobab Holiday Resort, in Bijilo.

In November 2016, The Gambia government joined the list of countries that ratified the Minamata Convention on Mercury, aimed at protecting human health and the environment from anthropogenic mercury pollution.

Mercury is recognised globally as a substance producing significant adverse neurological and other health effects. 

Speaking at the opening ceremony, Hon. Minister of Environment, Climate Change and Natural Resources, Mr. Lamin Dibba, said the chemical revolution of the last century has changed lives and contributed greatly to the well-being of humanity.

 “We have many reasons to be grateful to the chemical industry worldwide for its contribution in the production of a wide range of chemical products,” he declared.

He said without chemicals, it would not have been possible to feed the growing population, to find cures for diseases and to discover new materials that make lives easier, safer and more productive.

Chemicals are now part of daily existence, he said, adding that they contribute in many ways to sustainable development and are beneficial in elevating and maintaining high standard of living for people.

He said mercury has recently been identified globally as a substance producing significant adverse neurological and other health effects, with particular concerns about its harmful effects on unborn children and infants.

The global transport of mercury in the environment was a key reason for global decision and action to address the problem of mercury pollution.

He divulged that the government of The Gambia had joined the list of countries that ratified the Minamata Convention on Mercury in November 2016.

The Minamata Convention on Mercury is a major international initiative in minimizing and controlling the harmful effects of mercury pollution on the environment in general.

The objective of the Minamata Convention is to protect human health and the environment from anthropogenic emissions and releases of mercury and mercury compounds.

 He announced that the Government of The Gambia recognises the importance of sound chemicals management, and as a result, was one of the first signatories to the Convention in 2013, and also among the first fifty countries that have ratified the Convention.

Currently, over 128 countries have signed the Minamata Convention and over 70 countries have already ratified it, he revealed.

 For his part, the acting Executive Director of National Environment Agency, Momodou Jama Suwareh, said between 1953 and 1960, 43 people died and many more were incapacitated by the Minamata disease.

He said the tragedy was particularly severe in the fishing industry, because fishing was an important industry in Minamata, noting that fish is a staple protein food for the human community.

He said mercury and compounds containing mercury are toxic for human and for the environment.

Human activity, particularly since the start of the industrial age, has mobilised mercury, in addition to the one already in circulation naturally.

“Mercury is easily transported by air and water in its gaseous elemental form,” he said, adding that mercury has long atmospheric lifetime 6-18 months, hence, its characterisation as a global pollutant. 

Author: Yai Dibba

 

The Point Newspaper

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