One of the most urgent problems facing The Gambia is an ongoing food crisis, which was exacerbated last year by unusually light seasonal rainfalls. Farmers in many areas of the country simply cannot grow enough food to provide for their families and communities, resulting in skyrocketing food prices. The situation in The Gambia is dire, and many people in the region need help.
In March 2012, The Gambia's minister of agriculture declared that the 2011-2012 farming season had been a failure, caused largely by insufficient rainfall. Total crop yields were reduced by more than 70 percent, meaning that many families went hungry. As the situation worsened, the prices of food rose substantially, making it even more difficult for parents to feed their children. During an average farm season, families can grow enough food to last them between four and six months. Last year, that estimate fell to less than two months for many families, according to the United Nations Development Programme.
Almost 75 percent of Gambian people rely on agriculture for their livelihoods. When crop yields are low, children are undernourished, which leaves them prone to illness. Many people living in rural areas either cannot afford or lack access to basic health care facilities, meaning many children face almost unsurmountable odds of survival.
The food crisis in The Gambia has opened many people's eyes to the threat of poor harvests, including children, who worry about the situation.
"I didn't understand why the rains were important, but now I do, because that's why there is so little food around," said Oumie, a 9-year-old girl living in a rural village in The Gambia.
Without international aid, the people of The Gambia face an uncertain future. ChildFund has operated in The Gambia since 1984, and the need for your help has never been greater. We have been monitoring the drought situation in the country very closely and will continue working to provide relief and support for the most vulnerable children in the area, but we need your help.
Please consider making a donation to our ChildAlert Emergency Fund so that we can provide children with immediate relief and the long-term psychosocial support they need to endure such hardships.