By:- Sheikh Alkinky Sanyang (NEA)
The Adaptation to Coastal & Climate Change (ACCC) Project is a UNDP Global Environment Facility (GEF) sponsored project acquired and implemented by the National Environment Agency on behalf of the Government of the Gambia. This sub regional project is responding to shoreline change and its human dimensions in West Africa with the ultimate objective to develop and pilot a range of effective coping mechanisms for reducing the impact of climate change induced coastal erosion in vulnerable regions in the five participating countries.
The activities of the Project mainly relate to the conservation of biological diversity and support to community livelihoods in a bid to increase the adaptive capacity of those communities to climate change. At the national level, the expected outcome of the project is to increase adaptive capacity and resilience of coastline ecosystems and communities; and to integrate climate change and adaptation to climate change issues and coastal area management policies.
As a well designed ecotourism project can help promote environmental protection measures, the ACCC project established an environmentally friendly Eco-Tourism camp in Tanji Bird Reserve for the communities of Tanji, Brufut, Ghana-Town and Madyana to become aware of their immediate environment and the benefit they can harnessed whilst protecting biodiversity. The Wintering birds from Europe also use the Reserve as a staging post for onward journeys, and for breeding and feeding purposes.
Now the construction of the environmentally friendly dunes houses are completed with furnished restaurant, conference facility, and modern kitchen facilities powered with solar water supply and electricity. The NEA with stakeholders recently handed over this ecotourism Camp to the proprietress Haddy Jow who will be managing on behalf of the benefitting communities.
Delivering his key note address, the Deputy Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Environment, Parks & Wildlife disclosed that the project geared towards the conservation and sustainable management of coastal resources that include sustainable livelihood support in order to reduce pressure on coastal resources. One of these livelihood support activities is the construction of this magnificent eco-camp, “and the camp is not only environmentally friendly but was entirely constructed with very minimal use of cement and sand thus conserving of the most pressured resources in our coastal zone, sand”.
DPS Lamin Jawara told the gathering that a total of US$246, 682 was spent on the construction of the camp of which US$56, 262 was provided by the UNDP country office and this he said implies the best of efforts needed for enhancing the conservation efforts and supporting livelihood through revenue and employment opportunities.
Accordingly, DPS Jawara noted the project has 18 youths from the four beneficiary communities of Brufut, Tanji, Ghana-Town and Madyana on various aspect of tourism facility management for the purpose of employment at the facility. In conclusion, he posited that this camp fits perfectly with His Excellency’s national blue-print Programme for Accelerated Growth & Employment (PAGE)
Speaking on behalf of the management team, the proprietress of the artifact eco-camp Haddy Jow expressed that she is humbled and privilege to take charge of this magnificent edifice for the good of the entire surrounding communities and the Government of the Gambia. “I would like to thank our President, HE Sheikh Professor Dr. Yahya AJJ Jammeh for the opportunities and support he has relentlessly been given to women and youths” she pointed out.
She said today`s occasion is important and will go a long way in the annals of protected area management in the country, perhaps the first of its kind where Government is working in partnership with a Gambian private within the boundaries of a protected area. This, she said is an indication of Government`s willingness to create conducive environment for the development of the wildlife sector in order to increase contribution to the country`s gross domestic product.
Known for her versatile strength in the field of tourism and now in charge with the management of the Eco-Camp, Madam Jow said though it’s a daunting challenge but with the cooperation of all relevant stakeholders and help of Allah, she is willing and ready to confront the challenges with dedication and determination.
In conclusion, she thanked all stakeholders involved ranging from the UNDP country office, NEA, GTBoard, site management committee, for their encouragement throughout the process from project preparation to date.
Other speakers include Momodou Jaama Suwareh, NEA`s Director of Inter-Sectoral Services Network, Ousman Yarboe, Director of TANGO and Chairman of Project steering Committee, Malamin Kajorr Manneh Alkalo of Brufut and Ousainou Touray of Department of Parks & Wildlife.