FAO in the Gambia

Reviving mangroves in rural Gambia

Participants at mangrove site in Bantajang

In a remarkable initiative GCF-funded Climate Resilient Fishery Initiative for Livelihood Improvement in The Gambia (PROREFISH Gambia) in partnership with FAO, a journey has commenced to revive mangrove ecosystems. This endeavour aims to secure livelihoods and fortify the environment, giving hope to communities that may be losing a substantial portion of these resilient trees thriving in their brackish waters.

 Recently, PROREFISH Gambia engaged a   total of 180 participants from nine rural communities across The Gambia. The project commenced nine days of sensitization and training sessions, three days each at three key locations: Foni, Kiang, and Jarra, all nestled in the West Coast and Lower River Regions. These trainings were not just about sharing knowledge; they were about empowering communities to protect their mangrove ecosystems.

 The activities cover essential topics using straightforward language, equipping communities with practical skills. Subjects include the role of community-based organizations (CFCs) in mangrove ecosystem management, alternative income opportunities, and community resource mapping. These tools will enable communities to become effective stewards of their natural surroundings.

Mangroves are more than just trees; they are lifelines for these communities. They provide income, medicine, wildlife habitats, food security, flood protection, pollution filtering, erosion control, and coastal storm defence. The key to their survival lies in the hands of local communities, who can manage them wisely for the benefit of all.

"We believe in the power of simple steps and community-driven efforts. Mangrove restoration is not just about planting trees; it's about empowering these communities to be the guardians of their future."      Aruna Jobe, Natural Resources Specialist, FAO

"This training has opened our eyes to the importance of mangroves. We now understand how they protect us from floods and provide us with food. We are eager to be part of this effort to regenerate our mangroves."      Famara Tamba, a participant from Bantanjang.

"I used to take the mangroves for granted, but now I see their value. We're learning how to protect them and ensure they're here for our children and grandchildren." 

 Adama Jarju, another participant from the nearby Bajiran Village.

The culmination of the training at Bantajang saw participants venturing into the wetlands, carefully selecting habitats for mangrove regeneration under the guidance of the trainers.

from Bantajang in Foni, the delegation continued to the remote community of Karantaba in Kiang West for an enlightening three-day program, involving 40 enthusiastic participants. This journey concluded our nine-day community sensitization efforts, ending in Sutukung in Jarra East constituency.

Among these participants, a newfound understanding and recognition of the benefits of sustainable land management were evident. One participant stated, "We now realize the power of our actions in regenerating and protecting our land." 

Life in these communities is intertwined with the nearby mangroves, offering socio-cultural, spiritual, and economic benefits. Yet, this delicate balance is at risk as communities grow and environmental pressures mount. Urgent action is needed to restore the mangrove cover, ensuring the well-being of both people and nature. Collaboration, awareness, and advocacy are the tools guiding this mission. 

Participants explored the intricate connections between natural resources and humanity, gained insights into mangrove vegetation characteristics, understood their myriad benefits, and learned about propagation methods. Furthermore, participants appreciated mangrove biodiversity and explored their contribution to ecotourism and honey bee production and how failure to conserve them will have far-reaching impacts on society.

This phase marks the initial stage of our mission equipping participants for the next phase of the planting of mangroves.

PROREFISH Gambia is a transformative project dedicated to enhancing coastal communities' resilience in The Gambia. It focuses on restoring and safeguarding vital mangrove ecosystems while securing livelihoods threatened by climate change, exemplifying the harmony between nature and human well-being.