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Survey says only half of Gambians approve Barrow’s performance

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By Omar Bah

At least half of the Gambian population “approve” or “strongly approve” the leadership performance of President Adama Barrow, according to a survey conducted by the Afrobarometer.

Afrobarometer is a pan-African, nonpartisan survey research network that provides reliable data on African experiences and evaluations of democracy, governance, and quality of life.

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However, the survey revealed that despite the good rating of the president’s leadership performance, majority of Gambians believe the country is heading into the wrong direction.

In its August report, Afrobarometer said six in 10 Gambians (60%) say the country is heading in the wrong direction, double the proportion recorded in 2018 (29%).

According to the research body’s latest survey, only a quarter (25%) of Gambians describe the country’s economic condition as “fairly good” or “very good,” less than half the approval rate in 2018 (58%).

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The proportion who describe their personal living conditions as “fairly good” or “very good” has also decreased drastically, from 66% in 2018 to 35%, the report said.

The report said 48% of Gambians approve the National Assembly members, 49% approve the local government councillors, and 53% approve mayors/chairpersons while traditional leaders gained 69% approval.

It says the proportion of Gambians who say they went without basic necessities such as enough food, enough water, and medical care during the previous year increased significantly compared to 2018.

“Health (39%), management of the economy (38%), water supply (27%), and education (26%) are the most important problems that citizens want the government to address,” it said.

The report said citizens’ ratings of the government’s performance on the economy, infrastructure, and basic services have declined sharply over the past three years.

“Only (25%) of Gambians describe the country’s economic condition as “fairly good” or “very

good,” fewer than half as many as in 2018 58%,” it added.

The report said as might be expected, poorer citizens are considerably less likely to give positive assessments of their living conditions, ranging from just 15% of those with high lived poverty to 71% of those with no lived poverty (Figure 3).

It however said the most educated respondents are most likely to report good living conditions (56% of those with post-secondary qualifications).

“Urban residents (42%) and youth (39%) also report better living conditions than rural residents (26%) and older respondents (24%-32%). Only about one in four Gambians (27%) say economic conditions have improved during the past year, an 18-percentage-point decline from 2018. And while almost half (45%) believe things will get better during the coming year, that reflects a sharp drop in optimism compared to 2018 78%,” the survey added.

It said 51% of respondents say the government is doing “fairly well” or “very well” on maintaining roads and bridges, down only 5 percentage points compared to 2018.

“But larger drops are visible when it comes to providing a reliable electricity supply (46% approval), water and sanitation services (33%), education (33%), and basic health services (24%),” it noted.

In the final analysis, the researchers said: “The Gambia is at a crossroads. The upcoming presidential and local elections are widely seen as a test of the country’s transition to democracy. Many Gambians credit President Adama Barrow’s government with holding the country together after Jammeh’s forced departure and with launching an economic recovery with an ambitious National Development Plan (Shaban, 2018).

“However, citizens’ negative ratings on key economic and performance indicators suggest that they do not see the government as delivering on its promises. These findings indicate that economic management and public-service delivery are likely to be high on citizens’ agenda during the upcoming campaign.”

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