The Minister of Environment has stated that women are the most vulnerable to climate change and yet they are steadfast and hard working.
Hon. Pa Ousman Jarju, while presiding over the handing over of 45 boats and canoes to 8 coastal communities identified as vulnerable to climate change by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the Global Environment Facility (GEF), paid tribute to women, saying this kind of assistance is in line with government’s ambition.
The handing over ceremony was held at the National Environment Agency’s (NEA) in Kanifing under the UNDP/GEF project dubbed ‘Enhancing Resilience of the Vulnerable Coastal Areas and Communities to Climate Change’.
The objective of the project is to reduce the country’s vulnerability to sea-level rise and associated impacts of climate change by improving coastal defences and enhancing adaptive capacities of coastal communities. The beneficiary communities are: Lamin, Abuko, Kubuneh, Fajikunda, Wenchong, Noo Kunda, Conteh Kunda and Jimansaraba.
Minister Jarju said this project is aimed at building and enhancing the adaptive capacities of the vulnerable people particularly women, who are very vulnerable to climate change.
“We know that the canoes that are going to be given to you would go a long way in helping you and increasing your income and support your families,” he said. “This is the desire and aim of the Government of The Gambia. You are also aware that as women, you are very close to the heart of His Excellency the President. He has also been echoing this and whatever he does, he puts women at the forefront, and we are not surprised that women are benefiting from this.”
He advised the beneficiaries to work hard to ensure that they showcase the support rendered to them, noting that it would encourage the UNDP to mobilise more resources for further support. He added that the government is working with the UNDP for the second phase of the project, underlining that the successes and shortcomings would all be considered before the commencement of that project.
The Executive Director of the NEA, Ndey Sireng Bakurin, equally paid tribute to women, saying they play a critical role in helping their communities mitigate and adapt to climate change.
“Women have invaluable knowledge of community and social norms that can be harnessed to design effective programmes,” she said. “They often lead the way in adapting to climate change impacts by optimizing energy efficiency and using low-footprint energy sources and techniques.”
She described climate change as one of the most urgent challenges of sustainable development today, noting that the magnitude of climate change risk to coastal assets is large.
Madam Ade Mamonyane Lekeotje, the UNDP Resident Representative, acknowledged that the beneficiary communities are not dependent communities, and that they have demonstrated that they wanted to use this support to better themselves and their families.
by Bekai Njie