She made the comment yesterday at a day’s UNDP-backed development forum convened to proffer remedies for inequality, poverty and inclusive growth in The Gambia at the Kairaba Beach Hotel in Kololi.
She said: “There is reduction in poverty but… we should not be complacent about the figure of 48 percent or whatever. There are still people who are poor and we have to do something about it. That is why we are here today. I hope we have a very productive consultative process at the end of the day so we can come up with a plan of action that we will be monitoring and also ensuring we address the issue of poverty as a whole.
“Therefore, PAGE, a medium term plan for government 2012-2016 is guiding the country’s development initiative towards its long term vision-Vision 2020. The strategy focuses on accelerating growth while generating employment at the same time for the population, facilitating poverty reduction and human capital development among others.
“The national economy depends on agriculture, there is no doubt about that which, is mostly at small-holder level, with the rural population and particularly women being the most involved. Therefore, provision of interventions directed at the rural population in particular, smallholder farmers and women have a direct and immediate impact on the growth of the country and the wellbeing of the population. Thus the importance, of course, of gender sensitive policies, programmes and approaches, budgets, so as to have the desired impact that we all want.”
Njie-Saidy said in spite of external shocks, The Gambia has registered ‘impressive achievements in many sectors but more importantly, achievements that are geared toward the reduction of poverty and improving food security.’ She noted that between 2012 and 2014, The Gambia experienced record high growth rates averaging 4.3 percent. She added that the recent award by FAO to the country as one of thirteen countries to have reduced extreme hunger by half was a clear testimony of the achievement.
She further maintained: “We know poverty has been declined but more so in the urban areas than in the rural. Lessons from this experienced highlighted, therefore, the need for participation as well as ownership of the grassroots in particular in the rural areas especially women and the under-served and underprivileged in development.
“Growth must be inclusive. Growth initiatives must involve all citizens including rural farmers as well as urban dwellers. Growth must include men as well as women, boys, as well as girls. This is why government launched vision 2016 to give maximum attention to the agricultural sector, to achieve food self-sufficiency and consolidate independence and national pride in the process.”
On Ebola, the Vice President said it has affected tourism and has affected our economy as a whole, even though we do not have it in The Gambia. “We are affected because of the message that goes out. People are scared. As we always say, ‘the biggest cowards are investors and are tourists as well’. They are afraid when such things happen in a country and therefore do not come,” she added.
The event brought together senior government officials, policy makers, private sector actors, civil society organisations, the UN system, and other development partners.]]>