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Large Scale Ecosystem-based Adaptation in The Gambia

Submitted by Alice Wojcik 18th October 2019 15:53
The Gambia

Introduction

UN Environment and the government of Gambia have launched the country’s largest adaptation project, which aims to develop a sustainable natural resource-based economy.

The main approaches of the project are to restore degraded forests and farmland; establish ecologically sustainable businesses; develop ‘home-gardens’ to diversify food and income sources; and integrate adaptation actions into four sectoral policies. 


The project is being implemented across four regions of Gambia: Lower River Region; Upper River Region; Central River Region North; and Central River Region South.

For more information on this case study, please download the pdf from the right-hand column.

Links to SDGs

SDG1: Increasing the cash income of 11,550 households by at least USD330 per year in a country where 60% of the population live below the overall poverty line.

SDG8: Establishing 166 sustainable natural resource-based businesses with a cumulative gross cash return of US$2.46m . The project aims to create a total of 11,550 jobs in climate-resilient livelihoods.

SDG15: Rehabilitating 10,400 ha of degraded forest, savanna and mangroves, and an additional 3,000 ha of farmland. In the first two years, 10 million mangrove propagules were planted, which protect coastal villages from storm surges while providing habitat for many fish species. 

Climate Impacts

  • The consequences of climate change in Gambia are stark. Climate projections point to more erratic rainfall, and droughts and floods have already been intensifying, causing crop yields to fall in many areas.
  • The agricultural sector is threatened because it is heavily rain-dependent and employs 44% of the country’s workforce, providing two-thirds of household income. Climate predictions for West Africa in 2020 suggest possible reductions of yields by 50% from rainfed agriculture.
  • Many households in rural areas of Gambia already experience a “hunger season” between July and September, during which food stocks are low.
  • The risk is compounded because falling crop yields are forcing rural households to extract resources unsustainably from forest ecosystems, which degrades ecosystem services. Forest cover in Gambia has shrunk from 80% in the 1940s to around 42% in 2001.

“This project is the singlelargest natural resource development project ever launched in the history of this country.” - Lamin Dibba, The Gambia’s Minister of Environment

Technologies and Methods

  • Ecosystem-based adaptation (EbA) is central to the project’s activities. EbA is the tactic of using nature and healthy ecosystems to reduce the impacts of climate change.
  • The extensive reforestation is using multipurpose plant species chosen for their provisioning value (wood, fuel, fruits, honey, medicine and fibre) and climate resilience.
  • Enrichment planting is being used in both farms and natural ecosystems. Such largescale restoration is strengthening adaptation by reducing soil erosion and increasing groundwater supplies through greater ground infiltration capacity.
  • The project is planting millions of mangrove trees. The mangroves act as buffer zones protecting villages from storm surges and floods.
  • Rainwater harvesting devices are being constructed for tree nurseries. Green protection belts will be established to counter evaporation losses.
  • The project is creating fire breaks around all the restored landscapes to prevent the increasing risk of bushfires in the dry season.
  • Land-use plans are currently being developed to support transhumance corridors and prevent human-wildlife conflicts.
  • The project is establishing 166 natural resource-based businesses, which will will stimulate economic activities for poor communities while creating investments in ecosystem services. A total of $11.3m will be raised over 20 years for the National Forest Fund from taxes and licensing fees.
  • Demonstrations are given to local communities to create ‘home-gardens’ of herbs, shrubs and trees. The diversity of plant species in these gardens ensures there is continual agricultural productivity throughout the year, regardless of extreme weather events.
  • The project aims to ensure that four sectoral policies (transhumance, migration, agriculture, energy) integrate adaptation actions into their annual plans with explicit budget and monitoring structures.

Video: Climate Action in The Gambia

By restoring native forests and rehabilitating farmland, rural Gambians are facing down the effects of climate change on their environment and livelihoods.