By Saikou Suawreh Jabai
The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Resident Representative in The Gambia, Ms. Ade Mamonyane Lekoetje has said that the poverty rate in The Gambia is 39.6 percent and remains particularly high in rural areas due to the vulnerability of agricultural income, vagaries of nature, exclusion from economic opportunities and lack of social services.
Large sections of the populations, she added, remain exposed to covariate shocks that occur almost on yearly or by-yearly circle. She said poverty reduction in the country has been marginal.
Ms. Ade Mamonyane Lekoetje was speaking during the national launching of the UNDP 2014 Global Human Development Report on the 24th of July, 2014, at the Senegambia Beach Hotel.
Notwithstanding this, she said the Gambia’s Human Development Index (HDI) value has increased from 0.300 to 0.441, an increase of 46.9 percent or an average annual increase of about 1.17 percent between 1980 to 2013. With this HDI, she said the Gambia now ranks 172 out of 187 countries and territories. She said the UNDP commends the government’s bold effort to develop and validate a comprehensive Social Protection Policy to address the needs of the most vulnerable. The UNDP Rep. expressed the belief that the Social Protection Policy, once adopted and implemented successfully in tandem with the Programme for Accelerated Growth and Employment (PAGE 2012-2015), would ensure the universal provision of social services, strengthening social protection and increase employment opportunities thereby laying solid foundation for building long-term resilience in The Gambia. She said an account of progress in human development in The Gambia would not be completed without ensuring that the gains made are secure through sound institution framework. Ms. Ade Mamonyane Lekoetje said this is why UNDP will continue to work with The Gambia government to build responsive institutions capable of withstanding the waves of increased vulnerabilities.
She said the Human Development Report (HDR) advocates that all public policies, including macroeconomic policies, should be seen not as an end in themselves but as a means to an end, adding that the report demands a renewed commitment to put people first. This, according to her, means that macroeconomic policies should put full employment as central objective and that governments should foster policies that support structural transformation for increasing formal employment through greater public investment in infrastructure, development of human capabilities, active promotion of innovation and strategic policies for trade, particularly exports. Dealing systematically with these issues, Ms. Lekoetje said, The Gambia can have a momentous decade ahead which can translate into even faster employment generation, increased economic growth and human development.