45,000 Gambians are in ‘crisis’ and as the lean season (June-August) approaches

With a population of 1.9 million, the Gambia is faced with rising food insecurity, poverty and malnutrition, despite a promising environment for improved growth, stability and partnerships, a World Food Programme country report reveals.

According to the report, 48 per cent of the Gambian population lives below the national poverty line while 8 per cent are food insecure.

It said the March 2018 Cadre Harmonisé has estimated that 268,000 people are between March and May this year ‘under pressure’ and 45,000 are in ‘crisis’ and as the lean season (June-August) approaches; an upward trend in vulnerability is anticipated of up to 350,000 will be classified as ‘under pressure’ and 63,000 people will be in ‘crisis’ phase.

“This results from reduced/low food reserves in households during the lean season, due to decreased crop production in 2017 and fluctuating market prices for basic food commodities,” the report said.

It said the country’s progress towards Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 2 is limited, given the high level of vulnerability to food insecurity coupled with the high prevalence of global acute malnutrition (GAM) in children aged 6-59 months and stunting rates above the national average, with a high of 24.9 per cent in four districts.

Quoting findings from a 2015 Standardized Monitoring and Assessment of Relief and Transitions (SMART) survey, the prevalence of global acute malnutrition has increased in the Gambia to 10.3 per cent, up from 9.9 per cent in the 2012 survey.

To help mitigate the impact, a joint WFP/FAO A-Envelop project, funded by the EU from the 11th EDF programme funds for the Gambia was officially launched this month.

In addition to supporting small holder farmers and value chain activities (FAO) the project will ensure the provision of daily school meals for 64,000 children in North Bank and Central River regions, as well as support the establishment of early warning systems and contingency plans for disaster risk reduction.