8 steps to change the Gambia’s future

Since the former president Jammeh stepped down the government wants to change the Gambia. The government is doing all within it’s power to freeze Jammeh’s assets. This affected 131 properties of former President Yahya Jammeh or companies directly associated with him but also 88 different bank accounts. A huge step into the right direction. But can be done more in the future to really change the Gambia into a sustainable nation?

The largest threats of the Gambia in the long term will be degradation of land, disappearing groundwater, youth employment and depleting marine rescources. Climate change has a huge affect on the Gambia and other countries in Africa.

1. Tackle the problem of desertification

Desertification is a problem that already is affecting the Gambia. It is getting drier and the there is less rain. The top layer of our soil is getting harder which makes it difficult for the rain to penetrate. Every year less water is penetrating the soil which is causing the problem of disappearing groundwater. This is causing that forests will die and slowly changes into desert.

Desertification taking its toll on the North Bank of river Gambia


Solution: Harvest rain efficiently
This problem seems to be impossible to tackle but there is a solution to stop this. This solution is called ‘Contour trenching’. This solution is basically very easy to apply and is relatively cheap to work out. What needs to be done is we need to open the earth digging trenches of a meter deep. These trenches will be dig one meter deep, and at distance of four meters from each other. When an area has been ‘trenched’, it will collect all the rain in these trenches in the wet season.

2. Tackle the problem of disappearing groundwater

Because the toplayer of the hard soil has been broken open, rainwater which is collected in these trenches will soak down deeper into the earth. This makes it possible for seeds to germinate, and roots to recover. Another huge benefit is that all the rainwater in this area will soak deeper into the soil and bring back the level of groundwater. The area will transform into a green area because there is water. And water means life.

Reforesting is the solution
IMG:Aid Africa


3. Reforest and forest management

Green Wall Warriors however added another concept to ‘contour trenching’. By starting up tree nurseries and seedbanks they planned to collect thousands of trees and seeds. These will be planted in the trenches to speed up to proces to establish an actual new forest. To provide more food and jobs for the Gambia this will be a food forest. Native (fruit)trees and Accacia’s will be planted to provide more food and jobs for the country. This will be a direct solution to store incredible amounts of CO2 which is very interesting for the government. Subsidies are given out by the EU to countries who reforest and this could be a better income the selling fishing licenses to foreign companies. Forest management is more important then ever. Can u imagine that not even 100 years ago we still had lions and elephants and the whole Gambia was a forest? Deforestation and hunting is a big problem that should be managed really well. We need to protect what we have more then ever.

4. Create Woodforests for woodsupply

Fire wood collection and the production of charcoal of native trees is a huge problem in the Gambia. Slowly we are losing all our big trees to this. We have to protect what we have and make chopping of wood (of big trees) highly illegal. We have to create special farms for growing wood. This can be done with very fast growing species like eucalyptus). This wood has to be available for local people easily and very cheap. In this way we get the pressure off our existing trees and forest.


5. Create Youth employment

By reversing degraded land into fertile land we can expand our agricultural opportunities. If our harvests increase to more harvests per year we can create a lot of jobs. If we have more green and ‘contour trenched’ areas in the Gambia, we can have more livestock and we will simply have more food available. Establishing the Green Wall Warriors project will create many jobs.

Costa Rica runs almost 100% on solar energy

6. Sustainable Power supply

We need electricity and we have free sun everyday. Sun does not cost any money and it’s always there, it is simply the future. The only right choice we can make is to create solar parcs in our country. Fuel is much more expensive and dirty and should never be an option. Costa Rica ran on 100 percent renewable energy for 76 straight days between June and August this year, according to a new report, demonstrating that life without fossil fuels is possible – for small countries, at least.


7. Stop exploiting our marine rescources

Something that a lot of Gambians do not know is that our marine rescources are depleting rapidly. Our sawfish and sharks are already extinct because of overfishing. Last year was the first time in history no leatherback turtle was seen. Our stocks of snapper (red- and white), captainfish, casava and guitarfish are depleting fast according to local fishermen. We have to manage our fisheries differently if we want to survive. The old way of thinking is not working for our future generations.

No Foreign fishing
Foreign fishing is the main problem here. Governments earn a lot of money in giving our fishing licenses. Also the ergument which is used that it will bring work for thousands of people is very wrong. Foreign companies might provide work to many people for a while, but once the the fish is gone, the companies will leave and we are stuck with the problems. In a lot of cases the fish that is caught will be exported to Asia or other countries.

“Chinese fleets are all over the world now, and without these subsidies, the industry just wouldn’t be sustainable,” For Senegal and other countries of West Africa, the impact has been devastating. In Senegal, an impoverished nation of 14 million, fishing stocks are plummeting. Local fishermen working out of hand-hewn canoes compete with megatrawlers whose mile-long nets sweep up virtually every living thing. Most of the fish they catch is sent abroad, with a lot ending up as fishmeal fodder for chickens and pigs in the United States and Europe.”

– said Li Shuo, a global policy adviser at Greenpeace East Asia.


No Foreign factories
Factories from foreign companies are also a direct threat to our environment. Since it began working with the World Bank in 2011, Liberia has instituted a six-mile limit within which no industrial vessels may fish, along with fisheries monitoring that has reduced illegal fishing by 83% according to the ministry of agriculture and fisheries. The result has been that artisanal fishing communities have more than doubled their catch and some communities even report they are catching larger fish.

8. Create protected zones

If we want to save whats left of our marine resources, then it’s time to protect our backyard. And protect it really good. Therefore we need a functioning coast guard to make sure no foreign fishing activities are operated in our waters. To protect our coastline it is very important that the Gambia and Senegal work together in creating protected zones. If protected zones are realized we will assure our own fishermen in a great catch but we will also assure that our marine recources are save for our future generations.


The future is bright for the Gambia

If we lose some of our old habits the future could be very bright for the Gambia. We can tackle desertification, we can bring back our groundwater, our forest, our wildlife. We can simply change our future by making the right choices, but it’s also easy to ruin our future. The choice is up to us, the new generation. We have a new government and therefore it is time to create a new Gambia and make people aware we have to do things differently to create a beautiful Gambia for our future generations.

God bless the Gambia and our new government!

By Musa Manneh – Green Wall Warriors

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Also read:  
Thousands of Chinese ships trawl the world, so how can we stop overfishing? – Guardian
China’s Appetite Pushes Fisheries to the Brink – New York Times
The man who wanted to change the world – Peter Westerveld movie


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