By Adama Tine
After a two-week intensive research on the Role of Culture in Disaster Risk Reduction and Environmental Conservation, the National Centre for Arts and Culture (NCAC) in collaboration with the National Commission for UNESCO-The Gambia (NatCom) and other stakeholders on Monday validated the Intangible Cultural Heritages (ICH) Research and Documentation Division (RDD) Report.
The research was centered on how culture can assist in mitigating, managing natural resources and disaster risk reduction through cultural practices as regards rituals and religious beliefs and how it can contribute to strengthening the social capital which can help communities build resilience against man-made and natural disasters which include climate change and pandemics such as the Covid-19 pandemic.
Speaking at the ceremony, Hassoum Ceesay, Director General of NCAC disclosed that the project was funded by the UNESCO Intangible Heritage Section. He disclosed that the research was carried out in two areas – Kiang West National Park and Baobolong Wetland Reserve; “and what we want is to make culture and heritage relevant to burning issues of the day, namely: the Covid-19 pandemic and natural disasters like wind and rain storms which have caused lots of damage in the country.”
Ceesay said heritage culture can help make communities better able to withstand natural disasters by using cultural knowledge to mitigate and lessen the impact. He said the team “has come up with six ideas which can help to withstand natural and manmade disasters from the two areas – Kiang West National Park and Baobolong Wetland Reserve.
According to him, after the validation, the report will be shared with the Ministry of Basic and Secondary Education (MoBSE) for consideration and possible inclusion in the school curriculum “so that students will start learning how to protect themselves and their communities from natural and manmade disasters.”
However, Ceesay described the project as important, adding that, it will help show that heritage is part of national development and can help answer questions of today – Coronavirus pandemic and windstorms.”
Lamin Jarjou, Senior Program Officer at NatCom said they are a strategy partner to the NCAC as UNESCO does a lot with culture.
The Gambia, he said, depends a lot on tourism in terms of foreign exchange taking into consideration its contribution to the country’s GDP “but the Covid-19 pandemic has wreaked havoc on the sector and we all know it has a lot of changes on the country’s economy.”
Jarju expressed delight about the NCAC research team interaction with both men and women of the communities visited during the course of the research.