Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Hunger in The Gambia

A third of Gambia's 1.8 million people are struggling to have three square meals a day, the UNDP Resident Representative in The Gambia tells donors meeting in Dakar.

Floods, drought and pestilence have aggravated the food deficit levels in The Gambia to historic highs but you cannot tell by the actions of the government that still pretends to the contrary, with its constant sloganeering of 'eat what you grow and grow what you eat" under its new Vision 2016.

The donor's meeting in Dakar revealed the stark reality facing a country that has refused to take the threat of the Ebola virus seriously.   Although it is Ebola-free, the devastating impact of the outbreak is impacting agriculture and prices not only in the three affected areas but in the region, including The Gambia.

The outbreak is also impacting the tourism sector negatively.  According to the UNDP Resident Representative, "the outbreak in the region has caused visitors numbers to plummet to 60% compared to last year."

The UNDP official warned the donors that the Ebola outbreak is threatening the tourism industry, "a lifeline to farmers who need to top up their household income."  That lifeline will not be available this year, and perhaps in the years ahead because of the outbreak.

According to the United Nations, the hunger levels in the Gambia are to such levels that 200,000 Gambians are in desperate need of food assistance.  The Gambia has really never recovered from the food defect levels of 2011.  Despite all these challenges, including shift in climatic conditions, the regime of Yaya Jammeh is still insisting that Gambians grow what they eat and eat what they grow.

The deterioration in the food deficit situation in The Gambia has lead many Gambians to struggle to feed their families three meals a day leading many have had to sell cattle and take children out of school to buy food.

All indications are condition will continue to deteriorate, both from the weather standpoint - there's been late rains this year - to the negative impact the Ebola outbreak is expected to have on the number of tourists that will be visiting Gambia this and subsequent years.  Meanwhile, the regime continues to pretend that very thing is fine and dandy while things are falling apart.