Ishmael Kindama Dumbuya: Sierra Leone Telegraph: 7 February 2020:
The Minister of the Environment of Sierra Leone, Prof. Foday Moriba Jaward has launched the Sierra Leone Climate Change Adaptation Plan for Coastal Landscape Complex (CCAP) which sets the framework for a climate change adaptation plan that is geared towards increasing the resilience of coastal communities across Sierra Leone.
The launching was held yesterday, 6th February 2020, at the British Council Hall in Freetown, marking this year’s World Wetlands Day celebration – with the theme: ‘Wetlands and Biodiversity’.
The Plan which is now owned by the Government of Sierra Leone was done by the West Africa Biodiversity and Climate Change programme, with funding from the United States Agency for International Development (USAID).
The CCAP offers a mechanism for implementing, tracking, evaluating, and communicating adaptation actions and results, which are critical to the climate change adaptation plan’s overall success.
As a party to the Ramsar Convention, Sierra Leone joins the world to celebrate World Wetlands Day to remind all about the inextricable relationship that humans and wetlands share. Apart from being a natural habitat for marine species, wetlands also provide clean water, carbon storage, promote tourism, support human health and boost local economies.
Before launching the Plan, the Environment Minister re-echoed that the destruction of wetlands and other ecologically sensitive areas, cannot be allowed to continue unabated, adding that the fight to sustainably manage the country’s wetlands is not a ‘one man’s fight’.
He said ‘the fight to protect wetland biodiversity, heralds a significant milestone with the signing of the Ramsar Convention in the Iranian city of Ramsar on 2nd February 1971.
Since 1997, the world has continued to celebrate the signing of the convention annually, as a way of raising public awareness about the immense benefits to be gained from wetlands, and also about the importance of conserving wetlands as well as their wise use.
He noted that “the rampant display of disregard for wetlands is manifested in several ways; these include but not limited to cutting down of mangroves which are a form of carbon sink and breeding ground for fish; construction of buildings in wetland areas; unsustainable mining; embankments, dumping of waste and the use of hazardous chemicals like mercury and other pollutants”’ which have led to a rapid decrease in marine life, significant water shortages, flooding and climate change.
According to the Minister, “the Sierra Leone River Estuary, which includes the Aberdeen Creek, is the only wetland area in Sierra Leone recognized under the Ramsar convention. It is disturbing to note that the Aberdeen Creek and other wetlands across the country have suffered massive encroachment by members of the public, despite series of government actions against these encroachers. These government actions include the reforestation of the Aberdeen creek and the series of engagements with councils for the protection of wetlands in their respective cities and towns especially Bo and Makeni which are prone to flooding”.
He also said that the government of President Dr. Julius Maada Bio attaches great importance to the protection of the environment which includes protection of wetlands, adding that the creation of the new Ministry of Environment is a testament to the president’s unwavering commitment to sustainable environmental protection and governance in Sierra Leone.
He reiterated that the supply of pipe borne water, particularly to residents in the Western Area continues to face serious challenges for government, as well as the wanton destruction of wetlands being a major contributor to the perineal issue of water shortage in the country.
He said “people continue to encroach on water catchment areas notwithstanding that some of these catchment areas are located in protected areas”.
The new Ministry of the Environment is presently collaborating with other Ministries and agencies, such as the Ministry of Water Resources; the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry; the Ministry of Lands, Housing and Country Planning; the Environment Protection Agency; the National Protected Area Authority; and the Guma Valley Water Company, in order to work out sustainable solutions to resuscitate depleted water catchment areas.
Absolutely agree the destruction of wetlands, our environment,and other ecologically sensitive areas cannot,and should not be allowed to continue unchecked.For who knows when the first,and last trumpet will sound,signaling the end of human existence?
It could be tomorrow,or countless centuries from now,and therefore we must ensure that the Country generations still unborn,will inherit from us is,not a suffocating,polluted,unlivable habitation of dirt,and filth,but a productive land where robust,green trees are in mind blowing abundance, and where oceans are pristine,and as clean as mirrors.
As in the past,I am always ready to lend my support morally,ethically,and financially to any initiative that is sensibly, designed to protect our environment. And to all Climate Change deniers,who defiantly say; “What business is it,of ours to protect the environment “I proudly respond”.
Gentlemen, that is the only God-given duty,obligation of humanity – that is the real business for us to conduct here on earth ” Again,I sincerely hope Professor Moriba,and his team are not doing this in a hurry,just to score political points,but rather with a diligent,and meticulous approach in the interest of our beloved nation.So many real challenges,problems and questions need to be resolved,and answered in order for a satisfying,sustainable result,and outcome to be attained.What lawful,pragmatic,and amiable approach is this government going to use to resolve the challenges being faced by squatters, encroaching on government lands?
Will they be compensated,and relocated to other habitable,and non threatening areas? These are citizens, with rights; I sincerely hope you are not just going to bully them,and haul them away like unwanted garbage?Again,is there a budget already allocated to meet the financial constraints,challenges of this highly demanding endeavor? Oh let me ask,are there enough efficient, and trained personnel, with the know-how and abilities to capably handle the complexities involved in maintaining, and enhancing of wetlands,and the environment?
Listen,I could go on forever – get your priorities together,and in order,because peoples lives are going to be destroyed if you don’t. Ya heard me? Rising Sun Will Rise Again.