The Gambia — Stay Green Foundation, a local NGO based in Essau in the North Bank Region last Tuesday conducted a three-day anti-bush fire campaign for three districts in the region namely Lower Niumi, Upper Niumi and Jokadou. The campaign, which was led by the North Bank Region forestry officer, was organised by Stay Green Foundation and funded by Global Environmental Facility (GEF) Small Grant Programme under the UNDP project.
The campaign that targeted 40 village heads including their village development committees was aimed at bringing them together and sharing knowledge about the effects and negative impacts of bushfire. During the meeting in various districts, the issue of bushfire, sustainable land management, deforestation, erosion, cross-boundary and environmental issues among others were discussed.
Speaking at the opening ceremony held in Kerr Jarga Village in Jokadu District, Babucarr Mbye, the coordinator of Stay Green Foundation said the Foundationwas established in 1995 as a local NGO. He further stated that they only operate in Lower and Upper Niumi in North Bank Region. He revealed that currently the Foundation is benefiting from the Global Environmental Facility (GEF) Small Grant Programme, and that they collaborate with the Department of Forestry to carry out this anti-bushfire campaign in North Bank Region.
Mbye told the gathering that as watchdog of their villages it is their role and responsibility to inform the villagers on what has been discussed during the campaign. He also expressed worry over the trend of the land and environmental degradation in North Bank Region and urged that collective efforts be put in place to arrest the situation otherwise the country will lose most of its bio-diversity.
For his part, the chief of Jokadou, Alhaji Jim Fatima Jobe, expressed appreciation to the management of Stay Green Foundation and the Forestry Department for organising such an important meeting, saying that bushfire has become a cause for concern in North Bank Region. “So conducting this anti-bushfire forum will create more awareness in the reduction of bushfire in our region,” he said. He also challenged the participants to take the campaign seriously.
Ebou Janka, the regional forestry officer advised the people of North Bank Region to be conscious of the negative impact of bushfire and take ownership of their forest for the sake of the future generation.