Speaking to journalists shortly after signing a memorandum of understanding with World Food Programme at the university’s Faraba Banta campus, he said: “If the old adage that ‘wherever there is will, there is a way’ is anything to go by, then The Gambia will become food self-sufficient by 2016. There is political will already. Everybody who is in The Gambia knows the commitment of this government in achieving the vision. Food security is a huge, broad area and requires everybody’s participation for its realistic achievement. The university is one of the pillars that can fit into getting closer to achieving food security and this relationship fits into that [too]. So it is an ecosystem with many actors and agents, and recognising the importance of a key knowledge infrastructure within the goals and objective of food security is critical. The university is a hub for the provision of knowledge infrastructure in terms of food security.
“This can be done either through research or studying the food that is being consumed through the feeding programme, the effects it has and come up with recommendations for the programme so that the intended benefits and the expected impacts for our young is yielded because at the end of the day, the programme expects that there are healthy young ones who are well fed to go about their education without worrying about hunger. Food security is not as simple as the two words, there’s a lot in it that requires huge commitment from all actors and agents. And we are just trying to do our part within that value chain. A key and good knowledge infrastructure driven by good data that can be visualised into the policy regime around food security is very critical. Thus, the partnership between these two institutions is our collective effort to further contribute and support the goals and objective of the food security strategy of the country”.
The WFP country representative, Victoria Ginja for his part, announced: “For the first time ever, we are formalising a partnership with an institution that will empower The Gambia with information on key intervention areas where WFP is supporting the government including disaster risk reduction, food security assessment with particular emphasis on school feeding, and vulnerable analysis and mapping.
“WFP and the Ministry of Basic and Secondary Education are in the process of laying the foundation for a successful transition to a national school feeding programme that relies primarily on increased local production and marketing. Your role in the process is a crucial one. The university offers a unique opportunity for capacity building in key areas of data compilation and statistical analysis.”
She added that UTG constitutes a strategic partner in providing independent monitoring and evaluation of the programme through critical studies.
While underscoring that constructive recommendations and solutions are envisaged, she said: “We want to get it right and we count on our home-grown intellectuals to make it happen.”]]>