Guinea-Bissau

Location

Bissau
Guinea-Bissau
11° 52' 59.88" N, 15° 39' 0" W

Capital Based Focal Point:

Ministere des Affaires Etrangeres, de la Cooperation Internationale et des Communautesi

Capital City: 
Bissau
Languages: 
Portuguese, Crioulo

Climate Change

In 2005 Guinea-Bissau sent an Initial National Communication on Climate Change to the UNFCCC. In 2008 this was followed by a National Adaptation Programme of Action on Climate Change (NAPA), which was submitted to the same authority.

Due to its status as an LDC and its geographic position, Guinea-Bissau is among the countries most vulnerable to the effects of climate change. This is due to its geo-climactic conditions, high reliance on natural resources and limited capacity to adapt to the negative effects of climate changes. Added to this is the fact that the majority of households in Guinea-Bissau operate at a subsistence level and are highly vulnerable to changes in natural resource availability. Projected negative consequences of climate change include a fall in agricultural, forest and grazing production; loss of human life arising from malnutrition and food insecurity; and an increased risk of endemic diseases such as diarrhea, cholera, typhoid fever and tuberculosis. These impacts have already being felt for some time due to a drop in rainfall and gradually rising temperatures. The Guinea-Bissau NAPA identified the agrarian, water supply, health and coastal sectors as the priority areas in which the adoption of immediate adaptation steps to mitigate climate change are needed. Additionally, sea temperature rise threatens the mangrove forests of Guinea-Bissau and coastal infrastructure. The LDC status of Guinea-Bissau and its inability to adequately provide climate-related infrastructure severely limits its capacity to adapt to increasing changes.

National Adaptation Programme of Action on Climate Change 2008 (UNFCCC)

Natural and Environmental Disasters

Government bodies have set up both a National Protection Service and a National Commission for Natural Disaster Management to monitor threats and respond to natural and environmental disasters.

Although natural disasters in Guinea-Bissau tend to occur in the form of droughts and epidemics, it is recognized that the geographic position of the country creates the possibility of oil spills, tsunamis and earthquakes, and thus a need to prepare for these hazards as well. Major environmental disasters in the recent past have primarily been droughts, with some 32,000 people affected by droughts between 2005-2009. The Guinean climate is strongly marked by an extreme fluctuation of rainfall levels, irregularity in rainfall patterns, a longer dry season in some regions of the country, a recent increase of yearly average temperatures (around 1º C), and, concurrently, an increase in the average sea level. In addition to this, projections for future rainfall patterns predict a continuation of rainfall fluctuations and rising temperatures, increasing the risk of natural and environmental hazards. Due to the subsistence nature of many households in Guinea-Bissau, the population and economy is strongly tied to its natural resource base. The recent changes in rainfall levels and patterns have disrupted the capacity for many citizens to adequately provide for themselves. Additionally, Guinea-Bissau is one of the poorest countries in the world, and this creates a fundamental vulnerability when addressing climate change-induced natural and environmental disasters.

National Adaptation Programme of Action on Climate Change 2008 (UNFCCC)

Waste Management

Waste management and sanitation are addressed in the Guinea-Bissau National Poverty Reduction Strategy Paper (PRSP) produced with the IMF in 2007. A Water and Sanitation Master Plan exists for the country.

A private company and several NGOs have been involved in the collection of garbage in the capital. However, waste management continues to be a problem and is exacerbated by annual population growth rates of 3%. Efforts to reduce consumption have been pursued by the central government in response to the incapacity of municipalities to deal with increasing amounts of waste. With respect to sanitation, approximately 35% of households have no toilets and there is widespread use of poorly-conceived latrines or pits, which present a serious hazard to public health. There is no organized system for urban waste removal and treatment.

Guinea-Bissau: National Poverty Reduction Strategy Paper (IMF, 2007)

Coastal and Marine Resources

In 2008 Guinea-Bissau submitted its National Adaptation Programme of Action on Climate Change (NAPA) to the UNFCCC.

Eighty percent of people live in the coastal zone of Guinea-Bissau and depend on the direct exploitation of natural resources for subsistence. Many of Guinea-Bissau’s main biodiversity resources originate within the coastal zone, and two thirds of Guinean territory has an altitude of less than 50 meters. Current increases in temperatures and changes in rainfall patterns have increased coastal erosion, which is being accompanied by a rise in average sea level. These factors contribute to the vulnerability of the country and affect Guinea-Bissau’s capacity to adapt to continuing changes, especially given that infrastructure is also concentrated in the coastal zone due to population patterns. Mangrove forests continue to be exploited for firewood, and the effects of climate change on mangroves through increases in sea temperature are a major threat to the biodiversity of Guinea-Bissau. Currently, no portion of Guinea-Bissau’s mangrove forest is protected under national legislation.

National Adaptation Programme of Action on Climate Change 2008 (UNFCCC)

Freshwater Resources

A Water and Sanitation Master Plan and a Plan for Rural Hydraulics has been set up in Guinea-Bissau and all government action related to the country’s freshwater resources is taken through the General Directorate of Natural Resources.

Global climate change, pollution and water shortages due to decreasing rainfall are among the major factors having a negative impact on the availability and quality of fresh water resources. In this context, the government of Guinea-Bissau's main objective is to promote water conservation, maintain the quality of existing freshwater resources, and ensure universal coverage. The government has established cooperation links through the General Directorate of Natural Resources with several international organizations and developed countries to study the possibility of providing water coverage to the entire population by drilling cartesian wells, particularly in the northern and eastern parts of the country where the population is most affected by water shortages during the dry season. In terms of water resources, aquifers with dwindling water supplies are becoming more common and are more easily penetrated by salt water in coastal zones. Deeper ground waters and dried-up lakes are becoming more common in Guinea-Bissau, while the agrarian sector and its production of rice, the populations’ main staple food, has markedly decreased. This is due to salinity and the acidification of hydromorphous soils, destruction of protective dykes, flooding of rice fields, abandonment of degraded land and erosion. Access to drinking water is still limited for a large percentage of the population, while the majority of those with access to drinking water use public faucets, fountains, protected wells or cisterns for their drinking water supply.

National Adaptation Programme of Action on Climate Change 2008 (UNFCCC)
Guinea-Bissau- Country Profile Implementation of Agenda 21: Review of Progress made since the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development, 1992

Land Resources

 

In 2001, Guinea-Bissau presented its Rapport d´Evaluation Nationale dans le cadre de la mise en oeuvre du processus de RIO+10 en République de la Guiné-Bissau (National Assessment Report as part of the implementation of the Rio +10 process in the Republic of Guinea-Bissau) to UNDESA in preparation for the World Summit on Sustainable Development (WSSD), highlighting agriculture as a key theme in addressing social, economic and environmental development in Guinea-Bissau.

The interior of Guinea-Bissau is primarily savanna while the coastline region is characterized by a coastal plain with swamps of Guinean mangroves. The Guinean monsoon season alternates with periods of hot, dry harmattan winds blowing from the Sahara. Guinea-Bissau has very fragile soils that are exposed to rain-driven and coastal erosion. The expansion of agricultural production is associated with an increase in forest felling and slash-and-burn practices, which increases occupancy in regions with mineral-depleted soil. A lack of agricultural zoning has helped to accelerate the destruction of Guinea-Bissau’s forests, estimated at 30,000-60,000 ha/year, with negative effects on current carbon sequestration. Agriculture was also strongly affected by the 1998-1999 conflict, along with a sharp reduction in prices for cashews and cotton, crops which contribute over 60% of the country’s GDP. Added to this disruption, Guinea-Bissau has experienced a marked fall in agricultural production and production of staple food items (rice in particular); a rise in costs of some foodstuffs, particularly in urban and semi-urban centers; deteriorating cashew and cotton prices; and an increase in food insecurity. Greater environmental pressure on the uplands, with the consequent deforestation arising from upland agriculture and timber exploration, has pushed cultivation to new land areas. Currently, Guinea-Bissau’s greatest natural resources are phosphate, fishing and timber, with arable land consisting of 11% of total area. Exploitation of these resources has increased the demand for new land area for cultivation, increasing soil erosion, seasonal overgrazing, deforestation due to dependence on coal production and other forest goods for export. Rural to urban migration, particularly to the capital, has increased the pressure on existing urban infrastructure and exacerbated such social problems as juvenile delinquency, the lack of job opportunities and insecurity, among others.

AIMS Regional Synthesis report for the Five-Year Review of the Mauritius Strategy for Further Implementation of the Barbados Programme of Action for Sustainable Development of SIDS (MSI+5)

Energy Resources

Energy policy and strategy is pursued by the State Secretariat for Energy, with the help of bilateral and multilateral donors.

Currently, the main source of energy in Guinea-Bissau comes from forest resources. With a relatively high population growth rate (2% nationally and 4% in the capital city of Bissau), forest resources such as timber are not a sustainable energy source. Currently, 90% of the population relies on fuelwood as its primary source of energy, and government policies have centered on public education programs covering sustainable energy consumption to reduce pressure on forest resources. A sub-regional project for the generation of hydro-electricity production on the Gambia River was implemented in 2010 by the FAO, and a future coal production project is envisaged by the same organization.

Guinea-Bissau- Country Profile Implementation of Agenda 21: Review of Progress made since the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development, 1992

Tourism

A tourism development plan in Guinea Bissau was formulated in 2003 in collaboration with the Tourism Directorate, but has not yet been implemented.

A tourism sector does exist in Guinea-Bissau although the country is not as reliant as other SIDS on tourism as a source of foreign exchange earnings. Current ecological threats such as coastal erosion and drought are a threat to the tourism sector, but also create a potential opportunity for sustainable tourism or “eco-tourism” to develop.

AIMS Regional Synthesis report for the Five-Year Review of the Mauritius Strategy for Further Implementation of the Barbados Programme of Action for Sustainable Development of SIDS (MSI+5)

Biodiversity

A National Environment Management Plan was developed in 2004 to oversee the socio-economic development and environmental preservation of Guinea-Bissau. It has established a National Department for the Environment and Sustainable Development, which in the future will have the capacity to develop a National Strategic Action Plan (NSAP). Guinea-Bissau has also ratified the UN Convention on Biological Diversity, and following this an Institute for Biodiversity and Protection Areas was established in 2005 to coordinate and implement policies on biodiversity and protection areas. The country’s first Marine Protection Area has also been established.

The greatest area of biodiversity resources is in the coastal zone, and it is here that is most threatened by changes in climate. The general level of poverty of the population has exacerbated the environmental degradation of biological resources.

Guinea-Bissau: National Poverty Reduction Strategy Paper (IMF, 2007)
AIMS Regional Synthesis report for the Five-Year Review of the Mauritius Strategy for Further Implementation of the Barbados Programme of Action for Sustainable Development of SIDS (MSI+5)
Country Strategies: 
Title Programme Name Programme Description Year
NAPA - Guinea-Bissau National Programme of Action of Adaption to Climate Changes Strategy Description 2008
PRSP - Guinea-Bissau Guinea-Bissau: Poverty Reduction Strategy Paper Strategy Description 2007
NBSAP - Guinea-Bissau Republic Of Guinea-Bissau: Convention on Biological Diversity Strategy Description 2009
NSDS - Guinea-Bissau
19 Mar 2013 | SIDS Policy and Practice
14 March 2013: The Global Environment Facility (GEF) has completed a three-day Expanded Capacity Workshop (ECW) for the West African Sahel, bringing together focal points from the GEF, the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), the UN Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), the UN Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD), and the Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs). Representatives from civil society, the GEF Secretariat, and the GEF Agencies, also...
08 Mar 2013 | SIDS Policy and Practice
6 March 2013: The Secretariat of the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands (Ramsar Convention) has reported that during a stakeholder meeting held on the occasion of the celebration of World Wetlands Day 2013, Agostinho da Costa, Secretary of State for Environment and Tourism, signed an inter-ministerial decree for the creation of a National Ramsar Committee in Guinea-Bissau. The meeting, which brought together over 35 wetland stakeholders, was jointly organized by the State Secretariat for Environment...
08 Feb 2013 | SIDS Policy and Practice
February 2013: The UN Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) Global Mechanism (GM) has launched a revamped web-based platform titled “Sustainable Land Management (SLM) – Finance.”  The site will support the exchange of information on funding and finance for sustainable land management (SLM) among African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) countries, many of which are also small island developing States (SIDS).   The platform, which is part of the EU-funded Scope|ACP project, a South...
External Resources: 
Title Programme Description Year
Guinea-Bissau News
Government of Guinea-Bissau