VP Njie-Saidy on climate change
Thursday, March 27, 2008
Aja Dr Isatou Njie-Saidy, Vice President and Secretaty of State for Women's Affairs, has described climate change as a threat to human development, affecting our livelihood, human homes, rights, lives, among others.
Vice President Njie-Saidy made these remarks on Tuesday, on behalf of The Gambian Leader, President Jammeh, at the launching of the UNDP 2007/8 Human Development report entitled " Fighting Climate Change; Human Solidarity in a divided world and the Youth version of the 2006 GHDR on water" , held at the Corinthia Atlantic Hotel in Banjul.
She said that the UNDP Global Human Development Report (GHDR) on Figthing Climate Change joins the fourth assessment of inter-governmental panel on climate change [IPCC} and the stern review to provide the most authoritative and important contributions to the debate on climate change.
"It argues that the world is drifting towards a tipping point that could lock the world's poorest countries and their citizens in the downward spiral, leaving hundreds of millions of people facing malnutrition, water scarcity, ecological threats and loss of livelihood," she revealed.
Vice President Njie-Saidy further highlighted that the efforts to forge a global concensus have been damaged by series of myths.
"The first myth claimed that climate change is either a natural process or an elaborate fiction.The IPCC reports destroyed that myth because we know that the earth's climate is changing rapidly with potentially damaging consequences," she said.
She added that the second myth argued that responding to climate change will be too costly, undermine economic growth, and divert attentions from sustainable development, whilst the final myth claimed that climate change is a scientific and environmental issue, a danger to natural systems but irrelevant to human ones.
"The report is damning in its assesment, powerful in its evidence, persuasive in its arguments and compelling in its sense of urgency, as a result we connot point to uncertainty as an excuse for inaction and If we now fail to take urgent action to turn the tide on climate change, future generations will point to this report and ask why its warnings went unheeded? The judgement of history will not look kindly upon our complacency," she observed.
She stated that the occurence of drought and its severity has increased in The Gambia during the last three decades and the average rainfall has declined from 1300mm to 850mm. She noted that the start of the season as well as its duration has become more variable, and dry spells occuring during the season have increased significantly .
She further said that with 1-metre sea level rise, it is projected that about 92km of the coastal zone of The Gambia will be inundated.
"But in view of this concern, the government has recognised the need for action in containing the threat to coastal erosion and has taken bold steps to this effect. The recent beach nourishment project implemented in 2005, is a clear proof of the threat from sea level rise and the urgent need to build resilience and the Gambia national adaptation programme of action on climate change (NAPA) which was finalised in 2007 had clearly presented enormous challenges that government alone cannot face up to," VP Njie-Saidy told the gathering of experts.
The Vice President also observed that, the provision of safe drinking water in rural communities, is one of the key requisites the government of The Gambia has found prudent to enable her attain the Millenium Development Goals (MDGs) and vision 2020, adding that The Gambia has become a model in the sub-region in the management of rural water supply.
According to her, in every community, where a water facility is provided through a project, the youths play crucial roles during project planning, implementation and maintenance of facilities.
For her part, Min-whee Kang, UNICEF representative in The Gambia said that one issue that features high on the concerns of children is climate change, noting that economic and social development cannot be sustainable unless we deal with this issue decisively.
She added that according to the WHO nearly one quarter of all deaths are attributable to environmental factors, rising to more than one third of deaths among children under the age of 14.
According to her, the three biggest killers of children under five, are respiratory infections, diarrhoeal diseases and malaria, and that they are closely linked to envirnomental factors.
She revealed that UNICEF is working with the UN environment programme (UNDP) and UN frame work convention on climate change (NNFCCC) among others, to develop a strategy to promote safe and heathly environment for children.
"When it comes to climate change, the poor pay more and children most of all, they pay with their health, development and too often their lives," she said.
Other speakers at the occasion included; Vitale Muntean, UNDP rep in the Gambia, Hon Mass Axi Gye, SOS for Youth and Sports, Hon Momodou Kotu Cham, SOS, Forestry and Environment and Momodou B Sarr Director, National Environment Agency (NEA), among others.
Also present at the ceremony was Hon. Fatoumatta Jahumpa Ceesay, Speaker of the National Assembly.
Author: by Ebrima Jatta