Gambia is the smallest country on mainland Africa, with a total area of 11,295 km2. Located in West Africa, Gambia is characterized by its tropical climate, as well as its proximity to the River Gambia, from which it takes its name. As of 2013, the population of Gambia was approximately 1.9 million, with an expected annual growth rate of 2.7 percent. Gambia’s high population density (130 persons per km2) makes it one of Africa’s five most densely populated countries, in spite of its small size. Most Gambians live in the country’s relatively small coastal zone, which is where the capital, Banjul, is located. Gambia’s economy is formed almost entirely of the services and agriculture sectors, which together account for nearly 90 percent of GDP.
Because of the population’s heavy reliance on agriculture as a source of livelihood, as well as the country’s increasing urbanization of coastal areas, climate change poses major threats to Gambia. Average annual temperature is predicted to rise by as much as 3.9°C by 2100, while in the same time period average annual precipitation is expected to decrease up to 54 percent. Climate impacts are already present in the form of increased damage from windstorms and flooding, which in 2010 alone affected more than 35,000 people and damaged nearly 2,400 homes. Such events are predicted to worsen in future years, while at the same time, sea level rise will create unpredictable threats for the coastal urban population.
During the height of the rainy season, the Gambia River can account for nearly 20% of the country’s total area.
Gambia is preparing itself for the inevitable effects of climate change through creation of a strong institutional framework. In addition to a number of climate-related institutions, the Government of Gambia has committed to reducing poverty and improving its population’s well-being in a long-term strategy called Vision 2020. One goal of Vision 2020 is to mainstream climate resilience, making it compatible with CIF’s PPCR fund. In 2015, the Government of Gambia approached CIF for investments in a series of interventions aimed at mainstreaming climate resilience across all sectors of the economy. Potential PPCR projects have been identified primarily in coastal zones, and will serve to improve infrastructure to a climate resilient standard while at the same time creating enabling environments for the mainstreaming of climate resilience.