2015 Humanitarian Needs Overview: The Gambia, December 2014

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Food and Nutrition Security

All efforts at recovery since the massive crop failure in 2011 have, from one year to the other, been aborted by climate-related shocks. In 2014, the late onset of rains led to low agricultural production. The significant number of dry spells caused a lot of destruction, particularly on the rice fields. As a result, the estimated production of most crops has drastically reduced. Rice and groundnuts performed particularly badly in almost all regions, except the Upper River Region.

Drought and poor distribution of rains are estimated to result in a 52 per cent reduction in cereal production compared to 2013, and a 47 per cent reduction compared to the last five years’ average (CILSS Midterm review 2014). Households in almost all regions are affected by low purchasing power due to poor harvests, especially where agriculture is the main source of employment and income.

Food prices continue to increase mainly due to the reduced production of cereals, especially rice. The unfavourable exchange rate of the Dalasi against major currencies is expected to worsen in the coming months from the combined effects of poor production of the export crops and very low tourist arrivals. This price increase will be compounded directly through importation, and indirectly through its impact on fuel and transportation whichhave further affected households.

The nutrition status of children under five is likely to worsen in 2015 due to several factors including: poverty; increasing household food insecurity; poor infant feeding practices; increased disease burden particularly related to inadequate WASH services; limited knowledge and low awareness of care givers with regard to essential nutritional and hygiene practices.

Notable is a negative trend in the prevalence of both wasting (acute malnutrition) and stunting (chronic malnutrition). According to the 2010 Multiple Indicator Cluster Survey (MICS IV), the prevalence of wasting among children under five at the national level increased from 6.4 per cent in 2005, to 9.5 per cent in 2010. The 2012 Standardised Monitoring and Assessment in Relief Transitions (SMART) indicated 9.9 per cent were wasted while 1.6 per cent was severely wasted. In 2013, the Gambia Demographic Health Survey (GDHS) estimated that 11.5 per cent were wasted and 4.2 per cent severely wasted.

Stunting rates among children under five also show the same trends. The MICS 2005 estimated stunting at 22.4 per cent compared to 24.5 per cent as reported by the DHS (2013). The estimated burden of moderate acute malnutrition (MAM) among children under five is currently estimated at 56,839, while severe acute malnutrition (SAM) is at 10,217 children between 6-59 months based on the 2013 national population census projections and SMART 2012. The prevalence of malnourished pregnant and lactating women in the reproductive age group (15-49) is estimated at 45,944.

UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
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