The late, erratic and unevenly distributed rainfall during the 2011/12 agricultural season led to a significant decline and low quality of agricultural production in the Gambia. By 6 March 2012, the government declared a severe crop failure and announced the mobilization of government resources for immediate emergency response and called for international assistance to address the urgent needs such as food, nutrition support, fertilizer/seeds, water, health and sanitation.
Due to food shortages at household level due to poor harvest, the affect population has already started using coping mechanisms by reducing the number of meals from three to one per day, and in many instances, family members are migrating to urban areas to find work to provide income to support their families.
This Emergency Appeal aims to mitigate the impact of the food shortages on household food security and to reduce the cases of malnutrition, depletion of assets and preventing the population from engaging into negative coping mechanisms. Through this appeal, Gambia Red Cross Society (GRCS) aims to provide support to 51,000 beneficiaries of the North Bank and Lower River regions.
Working in coordination with the government and other organizations, GRCS will address both emergency and longer-term needs, supporting selected communities with food and seeds distribution for up to 40,000 people (targeting 20,000 people in each intervention), followed by screening and referrals for nutritional support for approximately 5,000 pregnant and lactating mothers as well as children under the age of five.
To increase the resilience of communities to future food crises, the National Society’s volunteers will undergo training to improve their knowledge of planning and implementation in livelihoods interventions, and provide livelihoods support for up to 6,000 women, as well as overall hygiene promotion activities for all supported beneficiaries.
The strategy is based on preliminary assessments; as the situation evolves the plan of action will be updated and revised based on ongoing assessments and the operation adjusted accordingly.