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From Israel to The Gambia

From Israel to The Gambia

April 23, 2012

Desert & Water Research

Kebba N. Sonko has been involved in forestry in the West African nation of the The Gambia for over 25 years.

He started as a forest ranger and has ascended to the esteemed position of permanent secretary of the Ministry of Forestry and the environment Research, serving as the ministry’s chief administrative and policy officer.

Sonko now proudly travels with a diplomatic passport and represents his country at international conferences on climate change, biodiversity and desertification.

Kebba N. Sonko working in a flooded acacia field at BGU's Wadi Mashash experimental research farm as a graduate student

Kebba N. Sonko working in a flooded acacia field at BGU’s Wadi Mashash experimental research farm as a graduate student

He attributes his success to the master’s degree he earned in desert studies at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev.

“I am where I am thanks to you,” Sonko said in a talk he gave at Americans for Ben-Gurion University’s Greater Texas Region’s annual community-wide event this spring where he was the guest speaker.

Sonko is a true “from the desert for the world” success story. He came to Israel from The Gambia to study at the Albert Katz International School for Desert Studies located at the BGU’s Sde Boker campus.

After receiving his master’s degree in desert studies from BGU, Sonko returned to his home country to apply his research in desert agriculture and agroforestry.

In doing so, Sonko is helping to meet the food and domestic energy needs of the Gambian people, and protecting the country’s environment Research and biodiversity.

He has also traveled to neighboring African nations to share best practices in agroforestry. The Gambia is the smallest country in Africa, but thanks to Kebba N. Sonko, it is making a huge impact on the environment Research and economic livelihood for its own people, neighboring nations, and other developing countries worldwide.

Under Sonko’s leadership as permanent secretary, The Gambia’s Community Forest Policy won the Silver Award in the 2011 Future Policy Award Competition recognizing the world’s most inspiring and innovative forest policies.