#Article (Archive)

We Must Establish the True Scale of the Problem

May 22, 2008, 6:40 AM

Super petrol has jumped from 30 to 33 Dalasi per litre, gas oil from 28 to 32 and kerosene has risen from 21 to 26 Dalasi. This increase in the price of fuel is just the latest in what is starting to feel like a litany of price hikes in recent times. Since we last wrote in these pages about the pressure the increase in the price of rice is putting on families that commodity has continued to spiral and a bag is now costing D850.

Along with this, the price of gas has jumped to D650 for a large canister and all of this while wages have remained static.

As it stands people are struggling to make ends meet. Some families are living hand to mouth day by day and in danger of malnutrition so in the coming months they will edge closer and closer to starvation. In the wider economic sense we can expect to see peoples disposable income drying up and this will effect those who trade and sell. This will in turn affect the families of traders and very quickly we can expect to see the entire economy constricting.

At what point can we expect intervention? If we continue on the path we are on without taking action then people will starve. Hungry people do irrational things so must do everything we can to avoid the kind of rioting we saw in Senegal and other African nations in the past few months. The increase in the cost of fuel will feed heavily into our current economic misery. Those who drive taxis may soon have to increase the price of fares to make ends meet. If this happens then transport might be beyond the economic means of some. If large numbers of people cannot afford to travel it will greatly reduce the income of taxi drivers and feed into the cycle of economic depression. 

There is no quick fix solution to this problem. We are of course at the mercy of the international markets and so many of the issues we face are beyond our control. The crisis relating to rice is affecting the whole world. We can however take action here in The Gambia. The government must immediately, possibly through area councils or come other data gathering agency, establish exactly how great the poverty people are experiencing is. Once we are fully aware of the scale of the problem we face we can go about tackling it in an effective manner.

How we would tackle the problem will depend on the scale and nature of the problem but if it is serious enough then maybe the government might have to implement a public feeding programme of some kind. If it serious enough then emergency aid from abroad may have to be sought. Whatever needs to be done must be done to stop our people going hungry. We can take whatever action is necessary but only when we are aware of the scale of the problem.

Action is essential because as one Senegalese national told the BBC in the aftermath of the rioting, "we can endure almost most anything but hunger. How can we be happy when we are hungry?"       


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M J Finance 9965635


GBP  =                 D39.00

US    =                 D19.00

5000CFA =           D235.00

EURO =               D31.00

Swedish Kroner=  D310

Danish Kroner=    D370



GBP   =               D41.00

 US     =              D21.50

5000CFA             D 250.00

EURO                 D33.00

Kroner =              D340.00

Danish Kroner=    D425.00