Gambia

Early Warning Climate Forecasting in Gambia 2011-2019 - Factsheet

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INTRODUCTION

• Gambia is the smallest country in mainland Africa, bordered by Senegal and the Atlantic Ocean. The main geographical feature is the Gambian River that bisects the country into the north and south regions. The population currently sits at 2.1 million.

• The project’s 1st phase built climate forecasting systems across Gambia to help communities prepare in advance for extreme weather. The project provided equipment and training for forecasting offices and TV/radio networks.

• The project’s 2nd phase aims to: Support the transition of Gambia’s National Meteorological Services (NMS) towards becoming financially sustainable; upgrade the early warning systems; and provide a critical mass of skilled human resources to operate the system.

• UNEP and UNDP are the implementing entities for this project. UNEP supported the financial sustainability of the NMS and human resources, while UNDP supported the upgrading of the hydro-meteorological infrastructure.

CLIMATE IMPACTS

• Since the late 1960s, Gambia has been experiencing shorter crop growing seasons and decreases in average annual rainfall.
Under climate change projections, rainfall will become highly erratic and will cause frequent droughts and floods.

• 75% of Gambia’s population depend on farming, so the country is highly vulnerable to these climate effects of erratic rainfall. Farmers complain that their wells are now drying-out too early in the season.

• The changing rainfall threatens the harvest of rice and groundnuts – the nation’s main cash crop. The effect has been large numbers of young men leaving the country in search of jobs elsewhere, sometimes risking their lives and family savings to reach Europe.

• Unsustainable deforestation is contributing to reduced rainfall and allows flash floods to wash away fertile soils. Forest cover in Gambia shrunk from 80% in the 1940s to 42% in 2001.