By Adama Tine
The National Environment Agency (NEA) with support from the European Union under the Belgian Development Agency in The Gambia (Enabel) on Thursday held a day-long validation of the draft Environment and Social Impact Assessment (ESIA) report for agric-food processing platform.
The event brought together stakeholders from different institutions to review, identify gaps and make necessary adjustments to the document.
Aimed at increasing local productions, the new agro processing platform will be developed in New Yundum with facilities such as pack-house that will assemble, sort, grade, package, store and distribute horticultural as well as fishing and livestock products.
Dr. Dawda Badgie, Deputy Executive Director at NEA said coming up with a document that looks at all aspects including how the project can be sustainable is very important. Also, he said coming up with very good ideas but not considering some issues that are fundamental such as environmental issues according to him could cause future problems. “It is important that this project takes into account those important aspects”, he said.
He urged Gambians to take ownership of the project by promoting local products.
Malick Bah, Director of Technical Services Network at NEA said it is a requirement by law to make sure that an environmental and social impact assessment is conducted so that the potential negative impacts of the project could be addressed during the implementation phases.
“Any development goes with challenges, so if there are challenges in those developments we need to put in place strategies to make sure those potential negative impacts are reduced and the positive ones are enhanced,” he said.
Ousman Jammeh, Country Manager, at Muslim Hands said they already have the design done by an engineering company, adding that they should be able to start the construction around December or January.
He added that a lot of work has been done with regards to the negative and positive issues regarding the infrastructure.