The West African country of The Gambia is prone to flooding and coastal erosion, said the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) in its latest study.
The River Gambia, which passes through it, is both a source of livelihoods for communities and at the same time can become an environmental hazard severely affecting the capital, Banjul, and almost half the country.
Better ecosystems management can help address this challenge, according to UNEP.
To this end, the Global Environment facility supported a UN Environment-led project titled Adoption of an Ecosystems Approach for Integrated Implementation of Multilateral Environmental Agreements at National and Divisional Levels.
The “ecosystems approach” to natural resource planning was applied in the pilot villages of Darsilameh and Tumani Tenda.
This approach applies systems thinking to gain a better understanding of how ecosystems function. Systems thinking is the use of various techniques to study and understand systems of many kinds. In nature, examples of the objects of systems thinking include living systems in which various levels interact (cell, organ, individual, group, organization, community, earth).
The approach contributes to people’s everyday life by identifying potential solutions to environmental issues, such as soil erosion, thus enhancing community livelihoods.
In order to mitigate flooding and soil erosion, the targeted pilot villages implemented soil conservation, mangrove planting, land reclamation, water resource management and forest protection activities.
Under the project, Village Development Councils, as well as agriculture, natural resource and environment sub-committees, were set up, and local community organizations were involved in implementation.