|Dr Manneh, Action Aid country director for The Gambia|
The international anti-poverty organization says it will also provide seed and other farming products to help make the next harvest productive as well as help with feeding and watering points for livestock.
However, Action Aid’s country director for The Gambia, Dr Kujejatou Manneh, said they observed that with widespread crop failure and food price hikes, the Gambia’s situation will become extremely serious unless emergency measures were put in place immediately.
She noted that the agency expects the situation to get much worse, particularly as water for both people and animals becomes even scarcer as the dry season progresses.
“The effects of the drought have been made even worse by rapidly rising food prices, which are 25% higher than last year’s,” Dr Manneh pointed out.
Adding: “Already, we are seeing economic migration from rural to urban areas as young people in particular search for paid work so they can send money to support hungry families back home.”
The Action Aid country director says in the long run the country should focus on better irrigation schemes and livelihoods diversification as this will help people become more resilient to weather related crises such as droughts.
The Gambia has declared national crop failure as post-harvest assessment of the 2011 farming season, which was characterized by below-normal and poorly distributed rainfall, indicated a reduction in total crop production of more than 70%.
As a result, the Gambia government has announced that it “urgently needed” US$23 million to provide food, seeds, and fertilizer to the entire farming population. It calls on the international community and NGOs to assist in addressing current needs and preventing “further deterioration of the situation” as the resources needed is well beyond what the national capability can guarantee.