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'925 million people undernourished in 2010'

Oct 18, 2010, 11:43 AM | Article By: Abdoulie Nyockeh from CRR

Abdourahman Jobe, permanent secretary at the ministry of Agriculture, has revealed that the number of undernourished people in the world remains unacceptably high in 2010, despite a decline, the first in 15 years.

"It has been estimated in 2010 that a total of 925 million people are undernourished compared with 1023 million in 2009, which is higher than before the food and  economic crises of 2008-2009, and higher than the level that existed when world leaders agreed to reduce the number of hungry by half at the World Food Summit in 1996," he said.

The permanent secretary made this statement on behalf of the deputy minister of agriculture, Kalifa Kambi, Friday 15th October, which marked Rural Women’s Day, set aside by the United Nations to focus world attention on the multiple roles of women who are mostly farmers and small entrepreneurs, and seek support for them.

This year's Rural Women's Day and the World Food Day, 15 and 16 October respectively, were celebrated together at a ceremony held in Brikamaba village in the Central River Region.

The celebration was spearheaded by ActionAid The Gambia under the theme: "United Against Hunger and Malnutrition".

Activists are calling for joint and healthy partnership with all the institutions and stakeholders, particularly FAO, the WFP and ActionAid The Gambia, in close collaboration with the Government of the Gambia to address food insecurity.

Mr. Jobe stated that, in the Gambia, government under the ministry of agriculture's steady drive has been able to ensure that the Gambia is not only striving to be food self-sufficient, but also to ensure food security and safety.

The government, he added, has been taking the lead in mobilizing people and resources towards increasing food production, income generation and graduation from subsistence agriculture to modern, export-oriented and commercial agriculture in order to enhance the livelihoods and earnings of the producers, the majority of whom are women.

In her statement, the Executive Director of ActionAid The Gambia, Dr. Kujejatou Manneh, described the occasion as a moment of reflection and also to recount on the challenges faced over the years. He said it also avails the opportunity to look ahead towards sustained actions and lasting solutions to hunger and its related constraints.

She asserted that, as always, the government of the Gambia through the ministry of Agriculture, the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation national office and ActionAid under the stewardship of the national World Food Day committee, joined the rest of the international community to mark the events in the Gambia.

According to Dr Manneh, this partnership and solidarity clearly demonstrated the spirit and intent underlying the global theme: "United Against Hunger" inline with ActionAid’s strategy of fighting poverty together to end poverty.

Mariatou Njie representing the FAO country representative, Dr. Babagana Ahmadu, said rural women make a tremendous contribution to food and agricultural production.

According to her, they also play a crucial role in determining and guaranteeing food security and well-being for the entire household.

"In a global atmosphere of increasing poverty, food insecurity, rural migration and environmental degradation, all potential actors in development must be given support and access to resources they need to pursue sustainable livelihoods and strategies for a better life," she said, adding that within this context, women’s empowerment will be central to raising levels of nutrition, improving production and distribution of food and agricultural products, and enhancing the living conditions of the rural population.

Governor Ganyie Touray of the Central River Region, in welcoming the guests, noted that there is an alarming level of hunger, and more than one billion people did not have enough food to eat in the year 2009. He indicated that this figure will increase in 2010 due to disasters that have occurred this year, as seen nationally and internationally.

Hon. Kaba Touray, who spoke on behalf of the Speaker of the National Assembly, was among the speakers.