Gambia– The Regional Forestry office in Kerewan, in partnership with Agency for the Development of Women and Children (ADWAC) recently held one-day anti-bush fire campaign in Sittanunku Village, Upper Nuimi District in the North Bank Region.
The theme for this year’s anti-bush fire campaign is: “Bushfire prevention; a means of sustainable livelihood”. The initiative is part of the annual anti-bush fire campaign organised by the Forestry Department’s office in NBR, to complement government’s efforts in protecting the forest and the environment at large.
Chief Alhaji Lamin Queen Jammeh of Upper Nuimi District thanked ADWAC and the Regional Forestry office in Kerewan for the bold initiative, noting that the convergence of stakeholders will enhance mutual understanding with district authorities, in order to critically discuss the possible way forward in protecting the forest from bush-fire. He said over the years the livestock owners in the area travel long distance in search of food, simply because of frequent bush fires. Chief Jammeh then commended ADWAC for providing Early Childhood Development Centres, empowering women to participate in decision making processes in the society, and establishing vegetable gardens for the women, among ethers.
For his part, Saikou Sonko, the Regional Forestry officer, hailed the partnership that exists between the Forestry office and ADWAC in the fight against bush fires. He urged the traditional authorities to come up with strategies on how to stop the occurrence of bush fires in the area. The aim of the programme, he went on, is to build cordial relationship with the community to enable them take proactive roles in putting an end to bushfires. According to him, the Forest Act has empowered the district authorities met out a fine of D10, 000 as penalties to defaulters, who destroy the forest and its products.
Kebba Sise, a representative of ADWAC, underscored the importance his agency attaches to the protection of the environment, citing the preparation and setting up of nursery trees, providing fencing materials for women gardeners, among others. He said the campaign is aimed at complementing the efforts of government through the forestry office in the region to address some of the environmental problems. According to him, the role of the village heads in protecting the forest covers is vital in providing safe haven for livestock. Sise however assured that ADWAC will continue to embark on annual tree planting to put an end to deforestation and increase soil fertility, among others.
Momodou Darboe, the regional livestock officer for North Bank Region, said that failing to protect the bush means doing injustice to livestock. He thanked ADWAC for their efforts in fighting against bush fires.
Alasan Bah of the Regional Agricultural Directorate in Kerewan dilated on the effects of bushfires in food production and poverty reduction. He said the frequent fire outbreaks continue to deter food production and contribute to an increase in poverty, less rain, low production and soil degradation, among others.