By Aminata S Kuyateh & Olimatou Coker
The World Food Programme (WFP) has launched a $1.5 million integrated agriculture and nutrition project to assist prevent malnutrition among children and pregnant women in The Gambia.
The project funded by the Japanese Government will enhance nutrition and value chain.
Yahsiru TSumura, WFP country director said the project will be implemented under the framework of the Japanese Fiscal Year 2022 supplementary budget for emergency food and assistance nutrition support operation.
“We bought D36,000 worth of rice and beans through local produced which will be considered to be meaningful injection to the local economy and agriculture of The Gambia,” he said.
He said the contribution is coming at a critical time when the world is facing food insecurity.
“WFP, FAO together with the government of The Gambia have contacted several national food security services for the past years for assistance. In the past 12 years, the number of Gambians facing food insecurity has been constantly increasing from 8 percent to 13.4 percent in 2021 and 27 percent in 2022,” he said.
Mr Tsumura disclosed that the Japanese government spent D36 million worth of rice and beans and donated it to locally producers.
“We consider this to be a meaningful injection to the local economy and agriculture. This year alone about 26,000 people, 4,300 malnourished children under 5 years, 1,400 pregnant and breastfeeding women will be benefiting from the Japanese contribution,” he said.
Osumu Izawa, the Japanese Ambassador in The Gambia, said the project will allow the government to provide nutrition commodities such as rice, beans and salt to vulnerable household children, pregnant and breastfeeding women.
He said Japan is sensitive to the situation of West African countries particularly The Gambia where several households are facing food insecurity, according to the latest national food insecurity survey in 2022.
“Following consultation with WFP, the Japanese government decided to deploy their emergency assistance to the most vulnerable household in The Gambia. In terms of crisis, it is important for the international community to come together and support one another so Japan is pleased to lead the way in this regard,” he said.
The minister of health Dr Amadou Samateh said nutrition is of paramount importance to the wellbeing of people while undernutrition and overnutrition is detrimental. “Without good nutrition, people will not be healthy and there cannot be meaningful development when people are hungry,” he said.
Sanna Dahaba, the executive director of NDMA, said the increased frequency of climate related shocks has created unprecedented challenges for The Gambia thus impacting negatively on the country’s food and nutrition security.
He said the 2022 floods were the worst in almost half a century and their impact on food insecurity makes this food assistance timely.
“The government of The Gambia under the leadership of President Adama Barrow has taken a bold step by clearly articulating the needs to build resilience to shocks as indicated in the National Development Plan,” he added.
He said the government will continue to take necessary actions in the form of policy and action plans to enhance food security.
“The government will also continue to work closely with WFP and partners to provide humanitarian assistance through food or cash distribution for immediate relief in case of emergencies,” he said.