Minister of Environment, 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 on 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 joined 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 boosts 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. He said: “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.” He maintained that government actions to discourage encroachment include but not limited to reforestation of the Aberdeen Creek and a 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 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 perennial issue of water shortage in the country.