Adama Barrow on Wednesday inaugurated Bansang hydrology complex at a ceremony
held in Central River Region. The hydrology division of the Department of Water
Resources will use the new complex to monitor water quality and quantity of the
Addressing the gathering, President Barrow expressed appreciation to the Global Environment Facility (GEF) and the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) not only for their current assistance, but also for the support that they have provided to the country over many years.
‘It is a partnership which has benefited many of our population, especially in the areas of climate change adaptation’.
The facility, he said, was constructed under the UNDP component of the GEF/UNDP/UNEP and the Government of The Gambia Strengthening Climate Services and Early Warning Systems Phase II Project.
‘This project is in conformity with the major climate change strategic documents of The Gambia. The national communication reports provide information on projected impacts of climate change on key sectors of the national economy and on the potential adaptation options to climate change’.
The Gambian leader indicated that the project is also highly consistent with The Gambia’s national priorities and plans, as it reflects priority activities identified in both the first national communication and the NAPA.
He observed that the main challenge facing the country, in the context of climate change, is its high vulnerability to climate change and climate variability worsened by low capacity to address and adapt to the phenomenon. This low capacity is evident at all levels – local, regional and national.
‘Among the major barriers are the inability to effectively predict climate change events, assess potential impacts and deliver short-term alerts, or longer-term warnings that can contribute to adaptive responses and development planning’.
Barrow highlighted that the capacity for climate monitoring and collection of reliable data and information on climate change and the development of alerts and early warnings was low because of a number of infrastructural constraints and human capacity limitations including: inadequate numbers and quality of equipment, tools and data processing hardware and software to collect and analyse climate information; shortage of qualified personnel that can analyse data and transform processed information into weather advisories and early warnings and limited capacity at the local level for uptake of climate-related messaging and ability to respond to advisories and warnings.
‘Many of these constraints have been addressed under this project and through other government interventions, thereby strengthening the early warning system in The Gambia.
The Gambia is increasingly prone to wind storms, droughts, floods, rainfall variability, coastal erosion, and sea-level rise. When coupled with existing socioeconomic challenges, these impacts stunt development and increase the country’s vulnerability. As it is, The Gambia is a low-income country, with a high dependence on agriculture, which makes large segments of the population extremely vulnerable to erratic rainfall and other climate-induced events’.
Farmers, he went on, have been experiencing shorter crop growing seasons due to drought and shallow wells that provided supplementary irrigation to their rain-fed systems, drying out too early in the season.