Social Vulnerability to Coastal Erosion: Empirical Assessment of Gunjur Village in The Gambia

Author : Muhammad Leroy ALBERT GOMEZ, 2015.


Gunjur village in Kombo South West Coast Region, The Gambia is like several Gambian
rural coastal communities vulnerable to the negative impacts of coastal erosion. Wherein
such negative impacts are felt by the rural community and influences deleteriously on their
livelihood and well-being. Therefore, there is the urgent necessity to reduce the vulnerability
of community members such as farmers, fishermen, fish smokers, fish mongers to the
impacts of coastal erosion. Furthermore, measuring vulnerability is a key to effective risk
reduction and the promotion of a culture of disaster resilience.
Thereupon, this study assesses the social vulnerability of households to coastal erosion in
Gunjur village by using the MOVE framework. Primary data is obtained through
questionnaire administration, Focus Group Discussion (FGD), expert interview and portable
GPS Receiver; while secondary data is obtained from published technical documents, and
already published related research. The data is analyzed using Statistical and GIS tools.
Meanwhile, the study identifies the socio-economic characteristics, the level of exposure,
susceptibility, and lack of resilience of the concerned coastal community.
Moreover, most of the households interviewed are resource poor and at the same time
vulnerable to a slow and creeping hazard such as coastal erosion amidst a changing climate
and variability. The key finding during the social vulnerability assessment is that women are
more vulnerable than men. This is true when considering things such as the high
unemployment rate, illiteracy rate, the percentage of women with no ownership of land,
reliance on rain-fed agriculture and the heavy dependence on scare natural resources like
firewood. Thus, the urgent necessity for government and relevant authorities to empower
women so that they can realize their full potential, and take their rightful place in national
Amongst the things recommended, are construction of break waters and groins (hard
engineering) at strategic locations along the Gambian coast, beach nourishment project (soft
engineering), alternative livelihood activities, a robust well integrated policy framework for
Climate Change and Natural Resource Management that takes into account sound adaptation
and mitigation measures; this will in turn avoid mal-adaptation, build resilience at all levels,
thereby reduce vulnerability and enhance human security.
Keywords: Coastal erosion, climate change, Gunjur, household, resilience and vulnerability