Faced with the lingering effects of the 2012 food and nutrition crisis in the Sahel, high food prices, recurrent natural disasters, animal disease outbreaks and plant infestations, many families in the Gambia struggle to feed themselves and their families. Approximately two-thirds of the population are currently food insecure.
FAO is focused on restoring the livelihoods of the most vulnerable communities in the Gambia, while at the same time, rebuilding their resilience to shocks that pose a threat to food security.
Assessing humanitarian and livelihood needs
The Gambia is a food-deficient country, contributing to only half of its food consumption needs, with less than 10 percent of rice – the country’s staple crop – produced locally. One of the main constraints to rice production in the Gambia is the red billed quela quela bird – a plant pest which is causing significant losses to crops and threatening the food security of farming families across the lower river region of the country. Approximately 600 ha of rice fields have been affected thus far.
FAO is currently carrying out a rapid assessment to better understand the extent of the damage as well as the humanitarian and livelihood needs of the affected farmers.
Combating transboundary animal diseases
Livestock production is carried out nationwide by almost all rural households in the Gambia. However, transboundry animal diseases – which can wipe out entire herds and adversely affect human health – is the biggest risk to farming families who depend on livestock production for their livelihood.
By carrying out vaccination campaigns against common animal diseases, FAO aims to improve animal health conditions and minimize the spread of transboundary animal diseases to other parts of the country. To prevent future outbreaks, FAO is training Government staff to improve disease detection, surveillance and reporting. FAO is also helping the Government to develop a five-year plan for the control and eradication of contagious bovine pleuropneumonia – the biggest threat to cattle production in sub-Saharan Africa.