By Sylvester Samba…………..
The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Country Director in Sierra Leone, Mr. Sudipto Mukerjee has called for serious action to protect Freetown’s Aberdeen Creek. The Aberdeen Creek is one of few protected sites found in the capital city. It is protected by the Convention on Wetlands (also known as Ramsar Convention) which serves as an important nesting ground for birds and spawning site for fish in Freetown.
Speaking in Freetown to mark World Environment Day and World Oceans Day on June 8th 2015, Mr. Mukerjee expressed concern over the rapid destruction of the Creek as a result of mangrove deforestation, encroachment and illegal construction.
He explained that rapid rural-urban migration led population growth in Freetown has led to encroachment of the Aberdeen Creek, the destruction of its mangroves and a big increase in water pollution. “One key step that Sierra Leone could take in protecting its people from coastal impacts of climate change would be to establish protected areas in which destructive economic activities such as mangrove deforestation and sand mining are prohibited. The Aberdeen Creek would be a great place to start as thousands of people in Freetown would be affected, if this area gets hit by a combination of sea level rise and heavy storms. But there are many other areas along the coast that would require protection,” noted the UNDP Country Director.
Mr. Mukerjee also highlighted the persisting environmental issue in Sierra Leone caused by excessive plastic waste which is not properly disposed of and which “Threatens the safety of the future environment.” He said walking around Freetown every day one will notice plastic bags on the ground and unchecked. The UNDP Country Director lamented that what more worrying is that the plastic waste ends up in the oceans which is a threat to the environment.
Mr. Mukerjee maintained that the ocean regulates the climate, feeds millions of people every year, produces oxygen, provides us with important medicines, and so much more! “In order to ensure the health and safety of our communities and future generations, it’s imperative that we take the responsibility to care for the ocean as it cares for us” he stressed.
World Oceans Day is used by the UN to advocate for the safeguards of the oceans. The theme for this year’s World Environment Day is ‘Seven Billion Dreams. One Planet. Consume with Care.’
By Sylvester Samba…………..