Monday, September 26, 2011

GAMBIA: HOME AFFAIRS



  • UDP’s Shingle Nyassi speaks on his visit to US 
  • Ambassador White projects a new era in civil-military relations  
+ more......





Coastal erosion identified as the most devastating environmental problem
Coastal erosion has been identified as one of the most disturbing environmental problem in the coastal zone of The Gambia, according to Mr. Famara Drammeh, Programme Officer Coastal and Marine Environment, National Environment Agency (NEA).
“It has serious implication for the economic of the entire country”, Mr. Drammeh said while presenting a paper on the overview of the coastal zone and the present status during a one-day meeting of Costal and Marine Environment Working Group.
The meeting, held at a local hotel in Kololi recently was organized by the NEA and funded by the UNDP. It was meant to bring together stakeholders from the departments of Fisheries, Forestry, Water Resources, Geology, Gambia Ports Authority, and Parks and Wild Life to discuss matters affecting coastal and marine environment problem and find ways of solving them.
“It has already destroyed tourist facilities, infrastructure, and historic and cultural sites. Coastal land loses due to erosion poses similar threats to component of the natural ecosystems such as the mangrove forest and wildlife protected areas,” Mr Drammeh said.
“It is projected that about 92km square of land in the coastal zone will be flooded and covered by the sea, a result of only one meter rise in present sea level.”
He added that coastal wetlands are also at risk of being gradually inundated resulting in the loss of mangrove and salt marsh vegetation, and that large numbers and species of fauna associated with mangrove are expected to drop. And local communities whose livelihoods are linked to the vitality of coastal ecosystem are at risk of losing their livelihood.
However, he said they’ve worked with the inter-ministerial taskforce on coastal erosion to evaluate coastal erosion and finalize the cabinet information paper on coastal zone management.  “We also work with stakeholders at Teranga Beach to solve the storm water drainage problem at the lemon creek and concord suite. We responded to reports from stakeholders regarding environmental conditions requiring immediate action,” he said. “The group also coordinated the energy and environment programme, including coordination of the Gambia’s representation at the COP 15 and 16 (Copenhagen and Cancun) conference which facilitated critical support in the climate change negotiations.”
Nonetheless, he admitted it is difficult for the Coastal and Marine Environment Unit to monitor the entire coastline when changes like coastal erosion could occur rapidly. He also lamented the lack of expertise for designing the monitoring and evaluation program of progress towards achieving the aims and objectives of the Integrated Coastal Zone Management Plan.


Bakurin harps on the need to revitalize coastal and marine environment
The Director of Inter-sectoral Network Services, National Environment Agency (NEA) has said coastal and marine environment is an important component and pillar for environmental development and protection, therefore needs to be revitalised.
Mrs. Ndey Bakurin was speaking during a one-day meeting of Costal and Marine Environment Working Group, at a local hotel in Kololi. The event, organised by the NEA and funded by the UNDP, was meant to bring together stakeholders from the departments of Fisheries, Forestry, Water Resources, Geology, Gambia Ports Authority, and Parks and Wild Life to discuss matters affecting coastal and marine environment problem and find ways of solving them.
“The coastal and marine environment working group was launched in 1995 to address the problems of coastal and marine environment and come up with ways and means of developing the area. The coastal and marine environment needs to be protected, because many people in the country earn their living from these areas,” Mrs. Bakurin said. “The working group is very important in the protection of coastal and marine environment for sustainable development.”
A report by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), The Gambia is one of ten countries in the world ranked “most in danger of experiencing disastrous consequences of a rise in the sea level due to global warming”.
“The Gambia’s coastal and marine environment is a rich source of animal and plant life which are used daily. Mangroves protect the coastline from erosion and are breeding ground for fish and other marine lives. This valuable resource is being cut down and used for construction, smoking fish or domestic fuel,” noted Mr. Momodou J. Suwareh, the Senior Programme Officer Coastal and Marine Environment.
While presenting a paper on the “Terms of Reference for the coastal and marine environment working group” Mr. Suwareh stated that there is a need to establish levels of exploitation to develop the fisheries sector on a sustainable basis.
This, he said, will increase the availability of fish in the communities, create jobs and improves living standards of the people.

Serious environmental concern
According to him, the removal of beach sand for construction is a “serious environmental concern” for the coastal areas. Erosion along the coastline has previously resulted in the encroachment of the sea into the historic sites and commercial businesses such as the Banjul cemetery, Banjul market and Radio Syd, up till now, the hotel industries (Kairaba beach hotel and Senegambia beach hotel)
H e argued that all these problems are being aggravated by poor coastal zone planning and developments. These are pressing needs which require attention from coastal and marine environment programmes.
He said the task of the working group on coastal and marine environment is to formulate, review and revise policies relating to all coastal, marine and fluvial activities.
“They support decision making by advising the NEA and government agencies regarding the sustainability, protection, development and monitoring of the coastal marine and fluvial environment,” he said. “Convenes and guides taskforces on issues that may arise relating to coastal and river bank erosion, the marine and fluvial environment, and sand mining, quarrying and contingency planning for oil spills.”


UDP’s Shingle Nyassi speaks on his visit to US
Secretary General of the opposition United Democratic Party (UDP), Mr. Shingle Nyassi reveals he told Gambian in Diaspora that their country is sinking and urge them to joins hands to change the situation.
Mr Nyassi said during his visit to the United States of America, he have been to New York, Maryland and New Jersey where he discuss with Gambians living there about the political situation of the country.
“The current political situation of the country needs collective efforts not only by the people on the ground. We should all join hands morally to change the system. So everybody need to be involved as far as politics is concern,” Mr. Nyassi told The Voice in an exclusive interview at the UDP Political Bureau in Banjul, while speaking on his trip to America and his party’s level of preparation for the forthcoming presidential election.
It is my responsibility as a national secretary to met Gambians wherever they are to discuss about the political situation in the country and to put up structures for the forthcoming presidential election.”
Mr Nyassi said his principal visit to America was to re-structure the party organs in the Diaspora. He claim to have been well received by American-based Gambians “because they know that the only option for change is the United Democratic Party which they belong to.” 
“I also told them about the inhumane treatment of people that is going on in the country on a daily basis and suppression of journalists. These people in the Diaspora might heard the opposite side of it because the government has a radio and television at its disposal and can say anything it like and they would not tell the international community what is happening in the country,” Mr Nyassi argued. “It is our duty as opposition to tell our fellow Gambians in Diaspora what is going on in and around the country.”

Politic harassments
He also called on his compatriots in the opposition not to relent in their pursuit on the basis of political harassment.
“African politic goes like that but we need to keep the momentum, I have been arrested 19 times and tortured. I’m the first politician in the Gambia to be kidnapped but I still remain in the struggle. So I urge people to be patient, come November 24 things will change,” he said.
According to him, human rights violation in the country are perpetrated on a daily basis, people are arrested and taken to the State Central Prison, Mile II without court order. This, he said is as a result of the regime’s less regards for the Constitution.

Well prepared
He said the UDP is well prepared for the November 24 polls and he will very soon he will embark on nationwide tour to put up campaign committees. “In fact, we have it already but in any election you have to go and meet the people and hear from them. That is I am going with a campaign team to re-establish these areas,” he noted. 
He argued that if the IEC is ready, they are also ready but up till now the election body is yet to come up with a major issue that will satisfy the electorate.

No boycott
He said the question of boycotting the election is not an idea of the UDP, if we do that we will betray our own Gambian people who are yearning for change. “There are lots of means that we can take when the need arise but the question of boycotting the election is not in our minds.”


UDP Secretary debunks ruling party’s claims
The United Democratic Party Secretary has classified as “propaganda” the many claims by the ruling party, the Alliance for Patriotic Reorientation and Construction (APRC) that masses of the supporters of the UDP have defected from the party.
“The APRC party depends on the radio and television to propagate propaganda, but as far as I am concern, Gambians with the UDP are still with the UDP,” Mr Shingle Nyassi told The Voice at his party’s Political Bureau in The Gambian capital, Banjul.
“What is happening in the country now is that Gambians are been suppress to become beggars, so the only way for some people to survive is to mobilize some APRC supporters and declared that they are defectors from the UDP party.”
He argued that the people claiming to be defectors are only doing it get money. He added: “Some of these defectors we hear on radio and see on television are never members of the UDP party. We don’t even know them.”
He said they can identify their party members all over the country, noting that bonafide members of the UDP are issued with membership cards.
“If the APRC party is confident enough, then let them give us the radio and television for only one week. You will see a difference and we’ll let the executive know that governments come and governments go,” said Mr Nyassi upon his return from a tour of the United States.
“Why have they not given us access to air time on the public media which is funded by tax payers’ money? All of these things are being done to suppress the opposition. What should stop the president from saying give air time to the oppositions we are in election year?” he asked.

Taxes
He also alleges that taxes payers’ money is being invested into politics, especially at the Kanifing Municipal Council (KMC) while the staff are finding it very difficult to get paid their monthly salaries.
“Regional governors are busy campaigning on a daily basis and this is resulting to the dormancy of government institutions,” he said. “President Jammeh is fooling himself by saying he will not campaign in the forthcoming elections. Governors speaking on behalf of their people are fooling the president by saying that this time around you will have 98%. It is impossible for president Jammeh to get that in this country.”
He lamented that the campaign period scheduled by the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) is too short. In fact, he said Gambians and the International community are wondering why ten days for the period of a presidential campaign.
He also described as “wrong” the President’s claims that he would not develop areas where people refuse to vote for him. He said people should know that the monies used in the development of the country belong to them.

Drug abuse causes lungs cancer - Kolafo Abdul
The Chief Executive Officer Youth Care Foundation (YCF) Mr. Kolafo Abdul has said his foundation will resort to making available to the public graphic images depicting the negative effects of drug and cigarette consumption.
Drug abuse is one of the issues that cause lungs cancer, he said on September 15 during a one-day sensitization on the “harmful consequences of drug abuse and cigarette smoking” at the YCF Head Office, Tallinding along the Brikama Highway.
He said efforts are being made to put on cigarette packets picture-warnings on the harmful effects of smoking. He noted that the public is being asked to choose from a series of picture-warnings on drugs.  
He said “evidence have shown that images have a greater impact than written health warnings.” “The former has already been introduced in some countries, including The Gambia. Warning images will include diseases such as lungs cancer caused by drug abuse, a dying smoker and a fetus in the womb, and other drugs and cigarette smoking related diseases,” he said.
Mr. Olusola Baba Tunde, the Project Manager YCF said various methods adopted to discourage youths from drugs have become less effective over time, so “we need to refresh our approach by introducing new hard-hitting images.”
This will underline the bad effect it had onto our feature leaders, he said, adding that it will also create fear in the minds of those who consume these health-damaging substances.


YCF promotes keen participation in Science and Maths
In an effort to promote in students the development of strong and high mathematical skills in the Gambia and as well encourage the young to participate keenly science and mathematic subjects, the Youth Care Foundation (YCF), awarded certificates to participants who attended voluntary summer school mathematics programme (SMP) this year.
The 2011 SMP was held on Friday under the theme: “Discovery”. The award, attended by various sectors of the education system, was held at a local hotel in Kololi and was supported by Gambega and DHL.
“Our major focus is to encourage enthusiasm for mathematics and increasing awareness of careers in the mathematical sciences,” Mr. Abdul Kolapo, the director of YCF said in his welcome remarks. “It is also intended to complement government’s efforts to promote science and technology.”
Mr Kolapo said YCF the Gambia believes the trepidation in mathematics can be dissolved through the support of stakeholders, saying building a competent nation full of energy would require a focus on mathematics and science.
He also called on parents to encourage their children to take mathematics seriously as a subject that is relevant to their lives and nation development. He added the private sector and the government should continue to invest more on these areas.


White projects a new era in civil-military relations
The Association of Non-Governmental Organizations in The Gambia (TANGO) through its African Capacity Building and Non-State Actors programmes in partnership with the United States Embassy in Banjul has concluded a one-day seminar on civil-military relations.
Held at the TANGO office in the Kanifing Municipality, was attended by security officers from various units, the media, government institutions, including the judiciary and civil society organizations in the country.
Speaking at the event, US Ambassador Mrs. Pamela Ann White said the seminar is a proactive step in a positive direction which signaled “a new era in civilian-military relations”.
“Peace is much more difficult to wage than war, and it saves lives, increases security, and fosters advancement of a nation,” she said on Thursday. “Civilian power is the new paradigm and the new standard of achievement for the State Department. There are three essential elements to waging peace and these are communication, coordination and collaboration.”
However, she noted that this cannot be achieved without the full participation of private and government entities. Therefore, they must share information; support projects; and maintain decisions made as collective responsibilities to all stakeholders.
“Communication leading to transparency puts everyone on the same page, enabling a peaceful and productive atmosphere and the United States is committed to an open and honest military-civilian dialogue,” she noted.
She charged that civilian, the military, the government, the media, and judiciary should combine their knowledge and expertise to ensure that human rights, economic stability, and national security are provided to Gambians.
The Chief of Defense Staff (CDS) of The Gambia Arms Forces (GAF) Lieutenant General Massanneh Kinteh said GAF as an institution is commitment to the establishment and maintenance of good civil-military relations in the country.
He said will certainly bridge the gap between the civilians and the military and help increase the level of mutual understanding about “our various roles”.
“It’s important for all to understand that one of the roles of the military in times of peace is to assist the civil authorities or populace on request and it is during such times that the relationship is established and fortified,” he said. “I am happy to disclosed that civil-military relations have improved significantly for the past year to an appreciable level, as oppose to the situation some years ago to the a point that it was the subject of lead stories in local newspapers.”

  • Courtesy of The Voice Newspaper

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