UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
28 March 2012: The 2011-2012 cropping season in The Gambia experienced a significant decline due to late and unevenly distributed rainfall, with crop production estimated to drop by 62 per cent compared to the previous season. Farmers throughout the country are experiencing an early and protracted lean season, beginning in March 2012, while in the most affected areas the lean season began as early as January and February. Farmer households are facing significant challenges to food access due to poor ground nut harvest – the most important cash crop in The Gambia – and the high price of imported staple foods. Farmer families are resorting to coping strategies linked to the lack of available food, such as reducing food intake, as well as the sale of livestock. Child malnutrition is on the rise, as some 11 per cent of children under the age of 5 are malnourished in rural areas of the country, presenting a 1 per cent increase over the previous year, and highest recorded record since 2006. On 6 March 2012, the Government of The Gambia declared an emergency and requested humanitarian aid to provide relief to the most affected 428,000 people.
In response, the Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF) provided rapid response grants totalling $4.8 million to five United Nations agencies in The Gambia. The CERF grants will cover prioritised needs for the most vulnerable people, for 22 per cent of total needs.
The World Food Programme (WFP) was provided a grant of $3.1 million by the Fund to provide assistance to 125,000 people, including 56,000 children under the age of 5. Funds will be used to provide emergency food to the poorest households, including pregnant and breastfeeding mothers and people living with HIV and AIDS located in the most affected districts.
In response to the government appeal, the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) received a grant of $1.4 million to help the most vulnerable agro-pastoralist households in the 19 districts most affected by crop failure. Some 98,000 people will benefit, almost one-third include children under 5.
A grant of $136,000 was given to the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) to provide emergency therapeutic food, clean water, and sanitation benefiting 125,000 people, including 15,000 children under the age of 5.
To prevent disease outbreaks and deaths related to food scarcity and crop failure, the World Health Organization (WHO) has been given $63,000 to support 125,000 people. Funds will be used to train health workers in case management of severely malnourished children and breastfeeding mothers, and provide stocks of essential medicines and medical supplies to health facilities.
To support reproductive health services for women, the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) received a grant of $42,000 to provide Reproductive Health Kits and other supplies to support emergency and safe deliveries in health facilities.