May 5, 2009, 7:15 AM
A news release from the organisation said FIOH has provided significant cash amounts to local communities to enable them to purchase a stock of cereals to top up community cereal banks.
FIOH has previously established a series of cereal banks in these communities, and has provided training on effective storage, seed selection and proper stock management.
This initiative has already helped these villages to ensure that they have access to a consistent supply of food during the so called “hungry period” between harvests.
However, the pending food shortage meant that the cereal banks were unable to cope with the unprecedented demand, and so extra stock was needed, Bubacarr Camara, senior programme officer at FIOH said.
“The rationale behind the additional support of the cash amounts is to respond to the national call for disaster relief for the crop failures.The money has been used to purchase additional cereals within the locality and from Lumoo markets.
“This stock of newly purchased cereals has been added to the already established cereal banks in the assisted villages. As of now, the cereal banks have recovered up to 80-100% capacity which will help to provide a buffer against the most serious effects of the food shortage.
“We decided that strengthening the existing cereal banks with additional food stock so as to reduce the impact of general food shortages, especially during the planting period is more sustainable and long lasting.
“We have already provided training on how to best utilise these cereal banks, and we intend to roll out more capacity building to educate the cereal bank operators, mainly School Management Committees (SMCs) and Village Development Committees (VDCs), on how to make best use of them.”
The cereal banks are managed in such a way that the vulnerable and the less privileged in the assisted villages are given the priority to benefit, which are repaid in kind with reasonable interest at harvest - determined by the people themselves to ensure growth.
It is estimated that up to one million people in The Gambia may require food assistance, due to the current food shortage.