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Gambia Red Cross launches ‘operation food security’

Jul 3, 2012, 12:58 PM | Article By: S.M.K Marenah & I. Senghore

The Gambia Red Cross Society (GRCS) in partnership with donors has launched “Operation Food Security” to help farmers in the North and Lower River regions affected by last year’s crop failure in the country.

The GRCS was able to raise D14million to assist the farmers with the support of partners such as the Icelandic Red Cross, Spanish Red Cross and Monaco Red Cross.

This followed an appeal for D28, 519, 264 and a bilateral partnership of D7, 353, 742.50.

The beneficiaries, Jarra East district in the Lower River Region and the community of Lower Baddibou in the North Bank Region will under the emergency phase receive food aid for four months (12 kilo of rice per person per month for 4 months), and seeds and cash vouchers (cost of 50kg of fertilizer per farmer for 5778 farmers), and hygiene promotion and malnutrition screening and cooking demonstrations.

The second phase, which is disaster risk reduction, will focus on supporting women gardening and capacity building of Red Cross volunteers.

Speaking at a press briefing held at the GRCS offices in Kanifing, Buba Darboe of the GRCS said the total beneficiary population for food rations is 6000 in both LRR and NBR for four months.

According to him, an estimated 10,000 children under 5, as well as pregnant and lactating women will benefit from health and nutrition services including nutrition education, cooking, demonstrations, screening and referral of malnourished cases.

Ebrima Sanneh, president of the GRCS said since the declaration of crop failure by the Gambia government in March this year, his office worked diligently to complement the efforts of the government, in alleviating the condition of the vulnerable communities.

“The government has created the enabling environment for all humanitarian institutions to put their efforts together in a transparent manner, to provide assistance to the vulnerable communities they intend to serve,” he said, adding that the experience and competence of GRCS, in our auxiliary role to the government, particularly in the humanitarian field, cannot be over emphasized.

The ambition of the GRCS, he went on, is to continue to advocate to make the communities stronger and resilient, by taking action in helping communities better prepare for disasters and emergencies, increasing access to health care or raising awareness around the lack of safe access, to health care in armed conflict and other emergencies among others.

Birna Halldorsdottir, operations manager of Emergency Operation Gambia, recalled the partnership between the Icelandic Red Cross and the GRCS, noting that it has been supporting the GRCS for the past 20 years.

Other speakers at the press briefing included Lamin Gassama, GRCS dissemination officer, and Katim Nget, the secretary general of the GRCS.