And the news keeps coming! NFI interview with Omar Jammeh
Updated: Aug 31
Naturefriends International recently interviewed Omar in their series 'In conversation with Naturefriends'. To provide easy access it is copied and pasted here or see the link
Omar Jammeh, Director of JUST ACT
Omar Jammeh, Director of the Gambian organisation JUST ACT (Janjanbureh United for Sustainable Tourism and Community Training) – partner organisation of NFI since 2019 – is passionately committed to empowering young people and women in his home country and giving them prospects for the future. He tells us in the interview about the initiatives and projects that support this.
JUST ACT has been a partner organisation (C-member) of Naturefriends International since 2019. What was your motivation to get involved in the international Naturefriends movement? Our motivation to be a partner in the NFI network emerged from the “Landscape of the Year” in The Gambia and Senegal and from being part of the preparations and implementation of nature hiking trails in both countries. NFI's approach and model became inspiring, especially in the areas of climate change and climate justice, as well as youth and women's empowerment.
JUST ACT stands for "Janjanbureh United for Sustainable Tourism and Community Training". So the focus of your work is the development of sustainable tourism and the training of young people. What exactly are your goals and what does your work look like? In 2015 JUST ACT was registered as an independent organization with The National Youth Council The Gambia and Attorney General Chambers retaining the same main objectives as JUST ACT Gambia. Our main objectives are to enable community-led development, to support accredited and non-accredited training through local organisations, thereby developing life skills and income opportunities, to make best use of local expertise in developing training, to enable responsible, sustainable and pro-poor tourism in Janjanbureh and surrounding areas for the benefit of the community while respecting local culture, traditions and the natural environment, and enabling economic revitalisation of rural areas to provide a thriving town for today's generation of students, curbing rural exodus, urban migration and illegal migration. However, rural-urban migration is declining among the island´s youth as viable projects are currently ongoing and creating income for over dozens including females and migrant returnees from Sahara and Europe.
What is the potential of community-based tourism (CBT) in the Janjanbureh region? What does it mean for the region? Community-based tourism has great potential and impacts on the lives of both locals and visitors to our community. In Janjanbureh, CBT has meant a lot to the players in tourism and its stakeholders over the past, respectively in the region.
In a precise and simple context CBT creates the following elements:
Do – hands on experience of local life-not just taking photos
Learn – the chance to learn something about local life and culture
Feel – the experience stimulates excitement, interest, wonder pride, etc
Share – experince with travel companions and local community members
Benefit – local community members benefit from offering CBT tours
I believe that CBT is a unique model which can lead to a responsible and sustainable tourism development without compromise to environmental hazards or commercialization of local culture – and which maximises the benefits through active local participation.
What projects are you currently working on? To what extent has the Corona pandemic affected you and your work? Currently, JUST ACT is embarking on two major projects ultimately to mitigate against ‘’Climate Change’’.
1. Poultry and slaughtering house (financed by ENABEL\RIEC): The COVID-19 pandemic was a major setback for JUST ACT, but over time we were able to develop strategies to find a way to live with it and redesign a tourism-agriculture project that will help to create jobs and also to supply the local market with healthy and organic food. Poultry farming is emerging from the impact of COVID-19 in shifting to agro-tourism and developing an integrated agricultural concept taking into account the value-added chain. More information on the project can be found here: https://www.justactgambia.org/post/a-second-great-building-project-for-independent-just-act
2.Restoration of Mangroves (financed by Naturefriends Germany/German Government):
Naturefriends Germany have funded the restoration of mangroves on 5 hectares land at Ballangharr in the Central River Region. Community members will be trained in mangrove management and nurseries through the network of youth and women's institutions. The project is planned for three years and the partners for the renaturation come from various environmental groups. (More information on the project can be found here: https://www.nf-int.org/en/about-us/naturefriends-news#Mangroven)
The border region of The Gambia and Senegal, where you are active, was awarded " Naturefriends Landscape of the Year" in 2018 - the first on the African continent. What has happened since then? What have the two years as "Landscape of the Year" achieved in the region, but also for JUST ACT itself? The "Landscape of the Year" has created cross-border networking for communities in The Gambia and Senegal, especially for rural settlements, through the collaboration of youth and women. Most importantly, the Landscape of the Year has helped to restore our natural habitats by replanting trees, providing training on recycling or cookstove building, and also developing a walking trail in Janjanbureh and surrounding areas, for which young people are being recruited as guides.
JUST ACT https://www.justactgambia.org
Landscape of the YearSenegal/The Gambia 2018–2020 https://www.nf-int.org/en/themen/landscape-year/aktivitaeten/landscape-year-senegalthe-gambia-2018-2020
Interview with Omar Jammeh at the Tour d'Horizon in January 2018 https://tourismlog.respect.at/2018/02/16/day-7-fairtravelling-landscape-of-the-year-senegal-the-gambia/
Virtual Journey to Senegal & The Gambia 2021 (Day 4) https://tourismlog.respect.at/2021/01/23/virtuelle-reise-nach-senegal-gambia-voyage-virtuel-au-senegal-en-gambie-virtual-journey-to-senegal-the-gambia/