Information to stop desert encroachment in The Gambia
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CTA. 2006. Information to stop desert encroachment in The Gambia. Rural Radio Resource Pack 06/1. Wageningen, The Netherlands: CTA.
Permanent link to this item: http://hdl.handle.net/10568/57207
Providing advice and information for natural resource management to prevent desertification and improve degraded lands in The Gambia.
Information to stop desert encroachment in The Gambia Cue: Desertification is one of the most serious environmental problems facing Africa today. In parts of The Gambia, the loss of agricultural land to the desert is particularly serious, with drought, deforestation and the common occurrence of bush fires contributing to the problem. Protecting and enhancing the remaining forest resources is vital, and has been a key focus for work by the Gambia World Development Agency, a non-government organization based in the capital Banjul. Much of that work has involved spreading information and new technologies to people in the affected areas, and the organisation has used a wide variety of approaches to deliver that information. Susanna Thorp spoke to Kebba Bah, the Executive Director of the Agency, about the different approaches his organisation is using. She also wanted to find out about a new resource centre, recently established to co-ordinate natural resource management strategies in the country. But Mr Bah began by explaining how his agency had been helping communities to the north of the Gambia River, one of the most seriously affected areas, to learn how establishing community forests could help to protect their scarce forest resources. IN: ?We had a series of exchange visits? OUT: ?natural resources in the Gambia.? DUR?N 3?26? BACK ANNOUNCEMENT: Kebba Bah, Executive Director of The Gambia World Development Agency. Transcript Bah We had a series of exchange visits, for them to visit some successful community forests. But in the East areas where we are also operating we have encouraged them to be involved in agroforestry so that they would help revive the vegetation that is affected. Thorp So you are encouraging them to grow particular trees that have certain properties that will be useful? Bah That?s true. In some areas we incorporated improved cooking stoves, and they realised how much they would save in terms of fuel and walking distances of 7-10 km, especially the women to get some firewood, and this has turned out to be a very successful study, quite a lot of the women are doing it now in some villages. Thorp Now you said one way of sharing information is actually by taking farmers from one area and showing them what?s happening in the successful areas, but you must be using other means of disseminating and communicating that information. What have you been doing to share that information more widely? Bah The information we have been using the national radio station, and sometimes we use some commercial radio stations, community radio stations. We organise awareness days where we bring farmers together annually to share their experiences, that?s another area. We also encourage school children to come up with posters and to come up with dramas, as a debate, and of course, teachers involved in environmental studies disseminate and use this in their own curriculum, actually. But right now with the newly approved project by CTA of establishing an regional information centre, we are looking forward to continuously collaborating with Department of Forestry, Department of Agricultural Services and some of our other traditional partners in developing this regional natural resource management centre, funded by CTA, to be a centre of excellence to serve natural resource dissemination in the area. Thorp So how do you think that?s going to change the way in which information is shared and natural resource management can be managed more carefully? Bah Of course it will go a long way in disseminating information, especially in areas of bush fires, which is a major concern for the Gambia. It would go a long way in coming in with posters, coming with messages and coming with radio programs, so that we would hire resource persons, specialists in different sectors of natural resource management. We use them as panelists and disseminate this information over the media and over the radio television and radio Gambia and community radios, and the audience are given the chance to get back with questions in different languages that are spoken in the Gambia. Thorp So you can have those agencies really sharing knowledge amongst themselves so that they have a common understanding of the different problems, but also you?re going at it now in a more holistic way, because instead of just providing information on soil or information on water, you can integrate that information and really give people what they need. Bah That is true, because the human resources are not a problem in the Gambia, it?s a question of coordinating them and bringing them on board to see how they can best be effectively utilised. Thorp So, a positive move then for good natural resource management in the Gambia for the future? Bah For the future it is to maintain and develop this resource centre and bring all specialists on natural resource management of different domains under one umbrella, and come up with a committee that gathers advice and guidance to see how best we can forge ahead and save natural resources in the Gambia. End of track.