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City of Banjul
Wednesday, September 23, 2020

Despite growth, UN laments pervasive poverty in Gambia

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Ms Ade Mamonyane Lekoetje, UN resident coordinator and UNDP resident representative made this comment on Friday evening at Kairaba Beach Hotel on the 69th anniversary of the founding of the global body, which was celebrated in The Gambia in the form of a cocktail reception and exhibition of UN work in The Gambia.

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She stated: “Despite steady growth experience by The Gambia over the last few years, poverty remains pervasive and protracted. The latest 2014 human development index (HDI) ranks The Gambia 172 out of 187 countries. The situation I am sure you will agree is not the best for the good people of the Gambia. To address poverty situation and the emerging threats such as climate change and environment related natural disasters as well as improve the performance of the economy, the United Nations system under its current development assistance framework (UNDAF 2012-2016) is implementing a number of strategic interventions in the area of policy advice, technical assistance and capacity building. Improving the food security situation and building, the country’s resilience to the shocks remains a major priority in our interventions. Acknowledging the important role youths play in the overall development of this nation, a number of United Nations interventions are targeting the youths.”

Dilating on the local theme for this year’s UN Day, ‘Youth: A valuable partner in improving food security and reducing poverty,’ the head of UN Banjul office enunciated: “The selection of the theme is informed by the ongoing national efforts to make the country self-sufficient in food production as outlined in the Programme for Accelerated Growth and Employment (2012-205, the president’s Vision 2016 Agenda and the aspirations of the national slogan ‘eat what you grow and grow what you eat’.  It is also influenced by the recognition of the pivotal role that youths could play in sustaining high level of production and productivity. As you know, food security and nutrition is one of the key areas of intervention by the UN system in The Gambia. Our support spans a number of areas, all aimed at supporting the government and the people of The Gambia to achieved sustainable economic growth and development, and thus reducing poverty.” 

The UN diplomat acknowledged the work of other development actors in The Gambia that complement the work of the UN, but warned: “Despite our efforts, the responses remain inadequate hence the need for a more concerted efforts to address exiting gaps and build the rights synergies. This raises for us the question on how to effectively engaged youths in development, particularly in agriculture. As you know, The Gambia is youthful nation. Over 60% of her population is under the age of 30 years. However, unemployment among the youths is critical challenge. Of the employed youth, 60% are in the service sector, while only 20% mainly rural youth are involved in agricultural activities. Yet agriculture remains a critical sector for economic expansion that can accommodate unemployed youth and boost food security.”

Meanwhile, UN Chief diplomat also read the statement of UN Secretary General, Ban ki Moon calling on governments and individuals to work in common cause for a common good. Madam Ade Mamonyane Lekoetje praised on President Jammeh for the support he provided to Guinea and Sierra Leone and said it was a good example of the South-South cooperation in the fight against the Ebola n West Africa, adding, “I also want to commend the government for its steadfast efforts to keep The Gambia Ebola free.”

Representing the government at the event, Finance Minister Kebba Touray said: “We are gathered here today to celebrate an organisation that serves as a beacon of hope to millions of people around the world especially the marginalised and the vulnerable. We are gathered here to celebrate an organisation that continues to demonstrate unflinching dedication and commitment in tackling issues of poverty, discrimination, diseases, conflicts and natural disaster as envisage by the founding fathers.

“The world we live today is confronted with broad and deep challenges ranging from ethnic, economic, social, empowerment, political and religious conflicts. These challenges require our honest, collective and concerted action and we look up to the leadership of the UN in confronting these challenges. “

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