573.4 MILLION DALASI FOOD & NUTRITION PROJECT LAUNCHED

Abdoulai G.Dibba & Awa Ba

An 11.4 million Euro equivalent to D573.4 million entitle the post crisis response to food and nutrition insecurity in the Gambia was launched at the Kairaba Beach Hotel on Thursday 8 June 2017.

The project is funded by the European Union Envelope B.

In his statement to the launching, the Minister of Agriculture Omar A.Jallow said that the Gambia is committed to the attainment of the Social Development Goals (SDGs) where improving food and nutrition security are critical components.

However he said, “if we are to make significant steps towards achieving the SDGs in the coming years, we have to take into account proven cost effective food and nutrition security interventions that are culturally adaptable and climate friendly” Minister Jallow stated.

Agric Minister noted that in order to achieve sustainable increased production and productivity for improved food and nutrition security, there is need for strong partnership, collaboration and coordination between agriculture, health and nutrition, implying that this project cannot come at a better time than now.

Minister OJ concluded by thanking those who participated in the design of this important project and the European Union for providing financial support to implement it.

On his part, the EU Ambassador Attila LAJOS said the project is a direct follow up to the earlier ECHO actions and that it is what is termed as a linking relief, rehabilitation and development(LRRD) project which aims to provide further support to a wider case load of rural communities remaining vulnerable to food and nutrition insecurity.

Ambassador LAJOS said the project aims to contribute to reduction of stunting through supporting household income, agriculture production, food diversification, treating acute malnutrition and promoting optimal care practices particularly in areas worst affected.

He said Household food security will be assisted in the most food insecure districts of North Bank, Lower River, Central River and Upper River Region.

In terms of implementation, Ambassador Attila LAJOS said the project will be implemented by the Food and Agriculture Organisation, World Food Programme and UNICEF under an innovative Co-delegation singe agreement with the European Union in which these UN agencies ‘deliver as one’, with FAO acting as coordinating agency.

In her statement, Dr Perpetua Katepa-Kalala FAO Country Rep. stated that the project will last for 30 months and has a total budget of 11.4 million Euro out of which:

  • 4.2 million Euro will directly target support to agriculture and through FAO,
  • 5.2 million Euro will directly target support to food and nutrition through WFP, and
  • 1.65 million Euro will directly target nutrition intervention through UNICEF.

Dr Perpetua Katepa-Kalala noted that food security exists when all people, at all times have physical, social and economic access to sufficient, safe and nutritious food.

Nutrition security, she said, means access by all people at all times to the adequate utilization and absorption of nutrients in food in order to be able to live a healthy and active life.

FAO Country Rep. noted that it is important to note that poverty in the country has a clear rural bias and that seven out of ten people in rural areas live below the poverty line compared with 1 out of 3 for urban areas.

In delivering her launching statement, Mrs Saffie Lowe-Ceesay said good nutrition is the first defense against disease and the source of energy to live. She said “nutritional problems caused by an inadequate diet can be of many sorts and when they affect a generation of youngsters, they can lower their learning capacities, thus compromising their future, perpetuating a generational cycle of poverty and malnutrition, with severe consequences on both individuals and nations” she said.

The Minister of Health stated that while young children are the most vulnerable to malnutrition, the right to adequate food is universal and good nutrition is essential for all.