I am pleased to announce the formation of the Carry Along a Bag to Clean Waterways Initiative (CABCWI) with the goal of improving the water quality of the waterways in the Gambia by removing litter and debris in our oceans, rivers, streams, and so on. To meet this goal, the CABCWI will use the leverage of waterways users’ daily economic activities to improve and maintain clean waterways.

The CABCWI rotates around the mobilization and motivation of the waterways users- mainly fishermen, recreational boaters and oyster ladies- to collect litter and debris while doing their work. All they need to do is put litter and debris that come their way in a bag they carry along to the waterways, litter and debris they find floating on the waters, those they bring up when drawing their fishing nets and lines, litter and debris wrapping around boat propellers, and so forth. On returning to shore, the collected litter and debris is put in bins for disposal, which is arranged by the local waterway users association, such as the Boating and Fishing Association at Benton Bridge. If we consider the amount of litter and debris that can be collected by each waterways user in a year, the CABCWI can made an incredible difference to the amount of litter and debris in our waterways. There will be a televised Annual Prize Giving Ceremony, with awards presented to waterways users and their associations who have excelled in collecting litter and debris.

The fundamental and most important factor is that litter and debris pollution is a growing problem in today’s world, which is exacerbated by the increasing world population. It is a highly extensive and visible form of pollution that has harmful impacts on marine life, wildlife and human health. Management of the amount of litter and debris in our waterways is a very good solution. This will become more important in years to come.
To assist in this effort, the CABCWI is being developed through partnerships with various governmental and non-governmental agencies, international organizations, waterways users associations and University of the Gambia students. The CABCWI, coordinated by Professor Francis Sarr of the University of the Gambia will, together with the CABCWI Steering Committee, collaborate with stakeholders to develop a comprehensive and effective integrated plan to assist waterway users in identifying and sustaining long- term programs for protecting and preserving waterways in The Gambia.

Though there are a number of reasons why such an initiative is crucial, its cost-effectiveness, sustainability and practicalities are a few of the most important:
Cost-effectiveness – Unlike other environmental control and protection initiatives, the CABCWI requires relatively much less time, effort, finance and machinery to clean up litter and debris in waterways. It is effective or productive in relation to its cost. The feasibility study into the possibility of creating the CABCWI shows that waterways users fully understand the benefits of cleaning the waterways under the Initiative: increased fish stocks, development of the tourism sector, the second highest earner of foreign revenue, and environmental protection and preservation. Indeed, it has been suggested (Longwood University 2019) that fisheries that are full of debris can result in decreased yields of food such as fish and crabs.

Sustainability – The CABCWI can be maintained at a certain level for as long as is wanted by the waterways users and their associations and communities, as waterways users carry out litter and debris cleaning while fishing, etc. They do not need to incur the high costs usually associated with clean-ups.

Practicalities – Waterway users are able to access litter and debris while fishing, for example, and are able to collect litter and debris with relative ease using a bag.

While other areas of focus may appear from the work of the CABCWI, the following complimentary services to waterways users will receive specific attention:

⦁ Administrative support
⦁ Improvement of processes, including the provision of tools for programs
⦁ Education and sensitization programs
⦁ Research on waterways protection and preservation
⦁ Provision of current and useful information
⦁ Connecting clean waterways environmental programs, outcomes, and expenditures
⦁ Financial management resources and services, including government and other agency-funded grants.

I request you to indicate your opinion, possible pertinent experience/background, your interest, or any questions you may have concerning this initiative to the Coordinator at sarrfrancis2@gmail.com. I also ask for your support including your advocacy at this early state of the Initiative’s development to move it forward.

Prof. Dr. Francis Sarr
Founder and Coordinator
Associate Professor of Community Health Education &
Dean, School of Graduate Studies and Research
University of the Gambia