Gambia needs a comprehensive Waste disposal system, says a American Environmental Intern in Gunjur
Environmentalists worldwide are crisscrossing the globe in a bid to gather scientific environmental data and evidence in order to devise mitigation plans against climate change and its predicted effects on biodiversity and the ecosystem. One such person is Canjarri McKinley, a BSc Environmental Science student with emphasis on Marine Science from the Western Washington University in Seattle Washington State, United States of America.
In an exclusive interview with GunjurOnline at her residence in Gunjur, McKinley examines her environmental internship in The Gambia.
Mrs. McKinley told GunjurOnline that she is in Gunjur as an environmental intern from the United States with the Gunjur Environmental Protection and Development Group (GEPDG), a local pro environmental organization that fights against climate change through advocacy and sensitization in Kombo South.
She revealed that, her journey from the US to the Gambia was as a result of her close contact with the large Gambian community in Seattle, coupled with a little bit of online research, saying she was interested in joining the Peace Corp but the current Covid-19 pandemic made that option completely impossible as it the program is put on hold.
The environmental student from Western Washington University shares her experiences in the Gambia as she compares environmental challenges that the Gambia and United States faced, adding that environmentalists in US were faced with lots of challenges under the previous Donald Trump administration but believes that with the current Biden administration hopes are high that due considerations would be given to the environment citing the return of the country to the Paris Climate Change Agreement and other local efforts by pro-environmental groups.
The environmentalist said that, she realized unity in the fight against climate change in the Gambia and that there is that ‘sense of community ownership’ of the issues saying one of her cultural shocks was the sense of ‘family in the Gambia’ instead of the ‘individualistic’ mindset that obtains in the United States. “Here, everybody is a family.” she added.
However, she strongly believes that; the indiscriminate disposal of waste in the Gambia is something that should be looked into and addressed to enhance public health and hygiene through a waste management mechanism as she acknowledges the wonderful work that Gambian environmentalists are doing in the protection of the ecosystem namely the beach cleanings, coconut tree planting and the ‘Bolong Fenyo’ birds and wild life projects.
In terms of environmental challenges that they face in her home State in the US, she stated that the armoring of the shores, some ongoing constructions done there that continues to impact the wildlife and the declining in the population of certain species triggered by multiple factors such as railway runoffs as well as other issues but noted with the influence of bigger universities like University of Washington and Western Washington University has created that societal interest in environmental issues. “Environmental justice movements and restoration projects have been done.” McKinley stated.
She charged that, during the Trump era, environmentalists were challenged by his administration but despite that individual communities were also determined to advocate for the right programs and policies at States level describing the entire situation as ‘lot of push backs’ under his leadership.
On the basic meaning of climate change, McKinley argues that there are many factors that triggers climate change and still now there are different arguments about it but believes that ‘anthropogenic’ and people building things that destroy the environment like carbon emissions and use of ‘cellphones’ or deforestation. “We have to be mindful of the electronic products we use and their origins.” She added.
She said that, every exercise done to push climate change consciousness; it is something good because to her any day delayed is a lost day against climate change saying she hopes to see more environmental policy changes in the Gambia in the future.
Meanwhile, Mr. Badara Bajo, Executive Director of GEPADG and a seasoned environmentalist has said that, the environmental policy of the National People’s Party (NPP) is inadequate and needs a comprehensive and inclusive standpoint on the environment and that he is willing to offer his services to the party in developing a more detailed policy on environmental in The Gambia.