Jul 7, 2010, 1:18 PM
The income below which a person or a family is officially considered to be very poor and in need of help, is the standard definition of the poverty line.
Poverty in The Gambia has been biting the people enough for several decades. When the country gained independence in 1965, the majority of the peasants who voted massively for independence were given hopes of new life, a life of opportunity for them as farmers in a new state.
The independence party, PPP, was said to have been initiated for farmers’ numerous projects to alleviate poverty.
However, they could not yield much as the projects could not be sustained at the end of their lifespan. The country then became too dependent on aid from donors instead of strategizing to feed itself.
Thirty years have passed under the PPP and nineteen years under the APRC, yet the country is still decrying dependence on food imports.
One is tempted to ask what has been happening to the country’s agricultural policies and programmes for the past forty-nine years.
Poverty in The Gambia is closely linked to farmers, who constitute the poorest of the population. Agriculture accounts for more than twenty per cent of the Gross Domestic Product; ninety-one per cent of the extremely poor are eking out their living from agriculture, while seventy-two per cent of the poor also work in agriculture.
Yet, this is a sector that provides employment for seventy-five percent of the country’s population.
If the so-called development has been yielding anything for the past years, it has really not been helping to reduce poverty in its real sense in this country!
To grasp the meaning of the seriousness of our situation in terms of development, consider the country’s development programmes like the Vision 2020, the Millennium Development Goals, the Poverty Reduction Strategy Paper and the recently formulated Gambia National Agricultural and Investment Policy (2010 to 2014).
There are, of course, progress and achievements in many other areas like health, education and infrastructural development, others.
However, poverty continues to sharply show itself in all sectors of development.
We are of the view that all development policies and programmes should be made to really tackle poverty eradication, if such programmes should be seen to be viable and beneficial to the majority of the citizenry.
The strategies to fight poverty might differ from time to time, but the fact remains that poverty continues to bite Gambians the more. Hence eradicating it should truly be given due attention.
“There is no scandal like rags, nor any crime so shameful as poverty.”