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Sunday, January 17, 2021

War on poverty is winnable

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There is no denying that nations continue to grapple with the critical issue of poverty. The Gambia is part of the group of nations where poverty has become a central theme of the discussion. The poverty rate in the country which now stands at 48 percent makes the issue even more alarming and fundamental to address. The government is quite aware of the mammoth task that lies ahead of us.

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The government of The Gambia’s promise to eliminate poverty is contingent on favourable or even neutral economic and demographic trends. However, such promise should be unconditional given the need for us to make a moral commitment to end the suffering that poverty causes. Commitment to eliminating poverty is a war in itself but the most obvious measure of the war’s success or failure is how the poverty rate has changed after waging it.


Clearly, poverty elimination should be consistent with anti-poverty programmes that work. Of course, there are quite a number of anti-poverty programmes that have been adopted by the government. The Programme for Accelerated Growth and Employment a medium term plan for government 2012-2016 is guiding the country’s development initiative towards its long term vision. Vision 2020 is focused on accelerating growth while generating employment at the same time for the population, facilitating poverty reduction and human capital development.


Nonetheless, winning the war on poverty depends on the government’s ability to persuade its partners that eliminating poverty is a moral imperative. Otherwise, poverty would persist. The understanding today is that the prevalence of poverty depends not just on the success or failure of policies aimed at reducing it but also on other independent economic and demographic forces, like the decline in the standard of living of people.


It is quite satisfying to note however that our leaders are serious about devising further plans to liberate Gambians from high level poverty. However, investment in jobs and training are quite critical for the increased well-being of Gambians. There is renewed optimism in the fight against poverty and we should not rest until that war is won. Even if our early initiatives fail, we should not cut and run but should instead try something new. The war on poverty is winnable.


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