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Food Security And School Feeding Initiatives Launched In The Gambia

BANJUL – The Government of The Gambia, the EU Delegation in The Gambia, the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) and the World Food Programme (WFP) launched the Millennium Development Goal 1c Initiative - Improving food security through crop production intensification and school feeding in targeted regions.This three-year food security project worth 7.6million Euros, is funded by the European Commission while FAO and WFP will provide technical assistance to the Government of The Gambia as implementing agencies.

The MDG 1c project aims to increase household food security and incomes of the participating farmers; and to improve nutrition in school aged children. The initiative will also focus on increasing community awareness of appropriate nutrition and dietary practices. “The goal of this 7.6 million Euros project is to improve food security and reduce hunger in the intervention areas thereby contributing to The Gambia's achievement of the Millennium Development Goal 1c Initiative,” said Mme Agnès Guillaud, the EU Chargée d’Affaires. “Food security is not an absence of hunger; it is the ability of a nation to manage it. With sustained partnership, joint efforts and a common desire to fight hunger, I am confident that this initiative will yield tangible, durable achievements.” said Ms Vitoria Ginja, WFP Country Director, at the ceremony in Pakalibaa. “The MDG 1c initiative is a way of strengthening existing social and productive safety nets as the principal long-term commitment to combating hunger and ensuring that our communities are food secure. Home grown school feeding is a win-win situation for both children and farmers.” She added. “Agricultural production and productivity growth remain essential for better nutrition, but more can be done. Agricultural research must continue to enhance productivity, while paying greater attention to nutrient-dense foods such as fruits, vegetables, legumes and animal products.” said the FAO representative in the Gambia, Dr. Babagana Ahmadu. “MDG 1c project is very important for FAO simply because it will assist smallholder farmers and small scale food processors overcome production constraints, add value and contribute to the overall goal of reducing agricultural poverty and household food security on a sustainable basis.” He added. The EU funded MDG initiative will result in significant value transfer to the communities and local markets, while providing nutritious meals to pre-and primary school- aged children. A WFP impact evaluation (2011) shows that school meals contribute to students’ minimum daily nutritional requirements and therefore ease the living expenses of the most vulnerable. The project will consolidate efforts gained in education and at the same time contribute to the overall goal of reducing agricultural poverty and increasing household food security. The MDG 1c initiative is in line with The Gambia government’s commitment to bolster the transition to a nationally owned and managed Home Grown School Feeding Programme with additional support of the Technical Advisory and Project Steering Committees, navigation towards the MDG-1c target will be facilitated in the form of better practices and training of stakeholders. The EU Chargée d’Affaires was hopeful that with the partnership of the Food and Agricultural Organization and the World Food Programme , the project will contribute to the sustainability of the Gambian agricultural sector enhancing the ability of participating households to increase the productivity of their farms with the potentials of producing in excess of their consumption requirements, enhancing nutritional status of school children in targeted pre-primary and primary schools through the school feeding Programme and other markets. “Let me register how truly appreciative the Government of The Gambia is, of the various interventions of the EU and the UN System. We truly value your support and partnership, and look forward to further strengthening the collaboration and cooperation in all spheres of national development”, said Honorable Abdou Kolley, Minister of Finance and Economic Affairs. “The MDG Initiative Project at community level is a conscious decision of the Government and of its partners to bring the project closer to its targeted beneficiaries; which will provide the opportunity for the Government, the EU and the UN System to reiterate their common goal of enhancing development and eradicating poverty, as the project supports the country's food security drive,” he added. For more information please contact: Isatou Njai, WFP/Banjul, Tel. + 220 998 8889