‘Gambia facing decade food insecurity’

Mar 3, 2022, 1:44 PM | Article By: Ismaila Sonko

Yasuhiro Tsumura, the World Food (WFP) country representative has said that The Gambia has faced a challenging time of the food insecurity in the last decade.

Mr. Tsumura made these remarks during the launching of the Comprehensive Food Security and Vulnerability Analysis (CFSVA) held at SDKJ conference centre recently.

He said the CFSVA in 2011 showed that 11 percent of the population was food insecure, in 2016. “It did improve down to 8 percent but this time, it increased unfortunately to 13.4 percent.”

According to him, this 2021 CFSVA came at a particular and crucial time where food security in the country is affected by global and regional factors.

WFP Country Rep added that the food and nutrition security situation in The Gambia looks very critical but it also provides a momentum to build back better for resilient and sustainable food systems.

“The staple food prices have also increased by 21 percent compared with 2016, 5 years ago,” he said.

He mentioned that The Gambia’s tourism industry that occupies 20 percent of the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) has been severely hit by the pandemic, and has contributed to the increased poverty and vulnerability especial in the urban areas.

Mr. Tsumura explained that the global and regional factors are the growing impacts of climate changes and climate shocks. “There are more hot days during a year in the Gambia, leading to wildfires or droughts,” he said, adding that as the sea level rises, salty water will go up and damage the farmlands.

According to him, The Gambia’s last year harvest cereal production was 18 percent lower compared to its 5-year average. “The long-term impacts of climate changes have made natural resources such as water, arable lands and other income generating sources scarcer in communities, which can lead to conflicts and migration which is often riskier and not always sustainable too,” he said.

Seraphine Wakana, the United Nations (UN) Resident Coordinator, said the United Nations has set ending hunger, achieving food security and improving nutritional status, and promoting sustainable agriculture as the second target of its Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) for the year 2030.

She said food security plays a major role in the physical and socio-economic development of the population.

Ms Wakana added that food and nutrition insecurity have a devastating impact on the lives and livelihood of families, communities and the nation.

“It is settled that SDGs will not be achieved unless hunger together with food and nutrition insecurity are eliminated,” she said.

She said the United Nations remains committed to supporting the government and to transform The Gambia into a hunger-free nation.

According to her, the principle of the UN in delivering, will accompany the government of The Gambia on her journey to promoting food and nutrition security and implement the recommendations of the CFSVA.

Hassan Jallow, the permanent secretary at the Ministry of Agriculture, said the 2021 CFSVA provides the government timely and relevant information on household’s food and nutrition insecurity as well as their vulnerability status.

He noted the Comprehensive Food Security and Vulnerability Analysis will serve as a baseline for the sector’s strategic planning as well as the COVID-19 recovery plan.

PS Jallow added that the prices of essential commodities increased in the country as a result of the disruption in trade, crops production declined especially in rain-fed farming and petty trades; mostly women suffered loss of business and revenue which impacted household food security.

According to him, the CFSVA found that 13.4 percent of the population or 329,189 people are food insecure in the country.

He noted that 1.8 percent are severely food insecure, while 11.6 percent moderately food insecure, food insecurity increased from 5.6 percent in 2011 to 8 percent in 2016 and 13.4 percent in 2021. “The population at the borderline increased from 29 percent in 2016 to 60 percent in 2021,” he said.

He said it is alarming to note that the percentage of food insecure population is higher in households that have access to cultivated land at 21 percent compared with non-farmer ones at 10.1 percent.

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