By Ishmael Kindama Dumbuya
Senior Information Education and Communications Officer
Environmental Protection Agency – Sierra Leone
The Environmental Protection Agency of Sierra Leone (EPA-SL) and the International Organization for Migration (IOM) on Thursday 6th April, 2023 launched a project titled “addressing Coastal Communities’ Vulnerability in Sierra Leone: A Case Study of Plantain and Yelibuya Islands. The project will seek to strengthen the capacity of the Environment Protection Agency Sierra Leone to plan and assist vulnerable coastal communities subject to climate change impacts in Sierra Leone by: conducting gender-sensitive socio-economic and environmental assessments of vulnerable coastal communities impacted by climate change and improving the knowledge of decision-makers on the impacts of climate change on vulnerable coastal communities, with particular attention to gender , using the results of the assessments.
The Plantain Island in Moyamba (Southern region) and Yeliboya in Kambia (North-West) is inundated with climate change challenges and showing erosion related issues thereby putting the entire population in these communities at high risk. Hence, the project funded by the IOM and co-executed by the EPASL and the IOM propose to undertake a systematic study of assessing this coastal erosion, sea level rise, and flooding effects on these coastal communities and its ecosystems.
During the implementation of the eighteen (18) months project, a comprehensive socio-economic and environmental assessments of the issues observed on the two islands and their communities will be undertaken, including research and engagement with communities that are most prone to dislocation and displacement resulting from environmental disasters, in order to have a better understanding of the overall situation to take suited and well-designed measures.
The project will contribute to the development of adaptation and resilience strategies to natural disasters, the adverse effects of climate variabilities and environmental degradation in Sierra Leone through bridging existing knowledge gap.
This project will also enhance the knowledge base of vulnerable communities subject to climate change impacts in Sierra Leone through comprehensive assessments and accessibility for evidence-based decision-making and policy development.
“The project is primarily trying to understand what is the cause of losing the Yeliboya and Plantain islands and furthermore, we are also trying to enhance the resilience of community people in these pilot islands” said Sheku M. Kanneh, Director, Environmental Protection Agency of Sierra Leone.
The EPASL and the IOM cannot find the solutions of these communities alone but need also need the involvement and corporation of other stakeholders in the environment and climate change sector. “As an Agency that is always committed towards confronting and solving environmental issues in Sierra Leone, we are committed to ensure that we work with all stakeholders during the implementation of this project in these communities” Sheku added.
During the execution of the project, the community people in these pilot areas would be involved in order to promote local solutions to address coastal community vulnerabilities.