(JollofNews) – A record 200,000 Gambians are in urgent need of food assistance due to pestilence, cyclical droughts and floods, and the West Africa
Ebola crisis, the United Nations says.
Ade Mamonyane Lekoetje, UN representative for Gambia, said the situation is so dire that 1.8 million Gambians are struggling to have three square meals a day and many have had to sell cattle and take children out of school to buy food.
“In 2011-12 we had the floods and droughts, then in 2013 we had the birds eating all the crops, and now we have Ebola threatening the tourist industry, a lifeline to farmers who need to top up their household income,” Mrs Lekoetje told journalists at a donor gathering in the Senegalese capital, Dakar.
She said tourism is a significant source of income for the Gambia, and although the country has not seen cases of Ebola, the outbreak in the region has caused visitor numbers to plummet by 60 per cent compared to last year.
“The problem is that tourists tend to think about Africa or West Africa as homogenous, not as individual countries. So Ebola in Sierra Leone has a negative impact on Gambia and other countries in the region,” Mrs Lekoetje said.
Despites numerous pledges and promises by the APRC Government of President Yahya Jammeh to transform the Gambia into a developed and export oriented country, the UN said more than a third of Gambians live on less than US$1.25 a day while malnutrition of children under the age of five is at a 10-year high of 25 per cent – 10 per cent higher than the emergency threshold of 15 per cent set by the World Health Organisation.