Government Allocates D10 Million for Drilling of Boreholes, Says Finance Minister

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By: Kebba AF Touray

The Finance and Economic Affairs Minister, Seedy Keita, has told the National Assembly that the Gambia Government has allocated ten million Dalasi (D10, 000000) for drilling of boreholes, reticulation systems and solar powered systems for ten rural communities.

He said this on Friday, 8th December 2023 at the National Assembly in Banjul while delivering the 2024 budget speech.

According to him, the drilling of boreholes, reticulation systems and solar powered systems is meant for ten rural communities in addition to 110 boreholes which have been successfully drilled by the contractor under the supervision of the Department of Water Resources.

He also told the Assembly that the Department of Water Resources, through Climate Smart Rural Water Supply and Sanitation Development Project (CSRWASHDEP) funded by the AfDB, has developed a WASH Map and establishment of a functional web-based Monitoring and Evaluation (M&E) System which was launched on the 28th of May 2023.

He said that the Government of the Gambia, through the Ministry of Finance and Economic Affairs, is engaging the African Development Bank (AfDB) to mobilise resources for the water supply infrastructure for the remaining 55 project sites.

The fisheries sector, he said, is faced with increasing number of challenges ranging from the degradation of habitats (related to pollution and/or their destruction), overexploitation (linked to legal overfishing and illegal fishing), climate change and variability, and the effects of COVID-19 and the current Russia-Ukraine conflict.

“The latter has increased oil prices for sea going fishing vessels and impacted the average cost of fish. To address the managerial gaps confronting the fisheries sector, the Ministry of Fisheries is currently reviewing the instrument governing the fisheries sector including the Fisheries Act 2007 and its implementing Regulations 2008,” he said.

He also informed the lawmakers that Cabinet has approved the review of the licensing fee for fishing vessels and Fish Meal Factories operating in the country, saying, “The Ministry of Justice is currently finalizing the necessary legislation and the subsequent gazetting of the new proposal for immediate implementation.”

“The US$25 million Climate Resilient Fishery Initiative for Livelihood Improvement project (PROREFISH) funded by the Green Climate Fund (GCF) was recently launched and project implementation has started,” he revealed.

He explained that the overarching objective of the project is to conserve and protect fisheries resources and their habitat through sustainable mitigation and adaptation measures; thereby enhancing climate resilience of fishing communities.

He averred that two climate friendly fish smoking ovens (NOPALE), fish drying racks and fish processing materials and equipment have been installed at Tanji and Gunjur Fish Landing Sites.

This innovative technology, he expressed, will reduce post-harvest losses, enhance the life of fish products and improve the income status of actors in the value chain.

“The construction of two fish landing platforms is also underway at Tanji and Gunjur at a tune of GMD12 million funded under the EU-The Gambia Sustainable Fisheries Partnership Agreement. 75. Activities at the established Fisheries Monitoring Centre (FMC) in Banjul are ongoing,” he further informed lawmakers.

This platform, as explained by Finance Minister Keita, equipped with a vessel monitoring system (VMS) and automatic identification (AIS) hardware and software, will enable the Fisheries Department to monitor the activities of all licensed fishing vessels operating in the fisheries waters of The Gambia from base.

He remarked that the establishment of the FMC will enhance the ability of the Fisheries Department to detect spatial offences by vessels with ample evidence to successfully prosecute cases under the law (Fisheries Act 2007 and Fisheries regulation 2008).

In the area of water resources, he explained “The sector is presently undergoing major reforms. Among them include the development of a new Water Bill to replace the National Water Resources Council Act [No 22 of 1979]; and the preparation of two additional bills for the creation of The Gambia’s Water Resources management authority and an authority to provide Meteorological Services and up-to-date climate information.”

He said the Gambia has also acceded to the two UN Water Conventions on the 17th of July, 2023 during the High-Level Forum on Sustainable Development.

With support from UNESCO and the World Food Programme (WFP), he reported that the Government procured eight Automatic Weather Stations to increase the accuracy of the Ministry’s weather forecasts and monitoring.

He added: “In addition, the ‘Strengthening of The Gambia’s Climate Change Early Warning Systems Phase II’ project has undertaken capacity building on climate change early warning systems for selected local communities in the seven local government administrative areas.”

“The Climate Smart Rural Water Supply and Sanitation Development Project (CSRWASHDEP) funded by the AfDB, will construct and install fifty-five (55) large solar powered piped-water supply systems that will provide safe and quality drinking water to additional 250, 000 rural people,” said Minister Seedy Keita.

He noted that upon completion in December, 2024, the intervention would significantly increase the number of Gambians with access to potable safe and quality drinking water and proper sanitation.

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