Country Director, Vitoria Ginja speaking to a beneficiary at Janjanbureh distribution point in the Central River Region, The Gambia. WFP / Fatmata Seiwoh
As part of its Sahel food crisis response, WFP has launched an emergency operation in Gambia, aiming to provide assistance to 206,000 people this year.
BANJUL - WFP’s food crisis activities started in April in Gambia with targeted food distributions for 62,500 people in the Central River Region, the country’s main rice growing region and one of the areas worst-affected by the erratic rains and failed harvests of the past year.
The distributions included rice, peas, oil fortified with vitamin A and D, and iodized salt to cover the basic food needs of the most vulnerable.
“I am proud that WFP is providing assistance to these hard-working farmers, especially the women,” said WFP Gambia Country Director Vitoria Ginja at the launch of the distributions.
Leaving hungry children at home
Fatou Gaye, a farmer from Gimbala Ferngo, describes this year’s harvest as labour wasted.
She explained that though she planted rice, ground nuts and maize, she was only able to harvest animal feed from the groundnuts.
“After the poor rains, with the other adults in the household, I drove around Kaur town doing laundry for people, seeking firewood, felling and burning trees to get charcoal to sell in order to cope with the situation,” she said.
“In the morning we leave hungry children behind at home and go in search of daily sustenance. Whatever we get by the evening, we use to prepare a meal for the children. Now that this assistance is provided by WFP, we can provide meals for our children before leaving in search of food.”
Cooperation with the government
“This is my first time to witness the distribution process of food items,” said Louie Moses Mendy from the office of the president while at the distributions, adding that he was particularly struck by the participation of women beneficiaries in the food management committees.
Essa Khan, the Executive Director of the Disaster Management Agency, also at the distributions, expressed gratitude for the way WFP managed the distributions, making them less labour-intensive for beneficiaries to receive the food.
“I have noticed true partnership between WFP and the Government,” he said.
In addition to food distributions, WFP will provide nutrition assistance to 17,000 children under 5 years old in the regions with the highest prevalence of acute malnutrition.