The 2016 Comprehensive Food Security and Vulnerability Analysis (CFSVA) is based on a nationally representative sample survey to update the knowledge base on food security and vulnerability at the household level in The Gambia. It covers both urban and rural areas and takes into account the recent natural and economic shocks experienced by the population.
A total of 2,557 households were interviewed in urban and rural settlements across five administrative regions and two municipalities. 18 percent of the households interviewed were headed by females. Households were asked questions regarding food consumption (frequency and dietary diversity); income and expenditure; coping strategies; assets and livelihoods; seasonality of food insecurity, employment and migration patterns.
In addition, community interviews were carried out in twenty randomly selected communities to obtain contextual information about access to health and sanitation services, infrastructure, shelter, roads, markets and recent shocks and coping mechanisms.
The 2016 CFSVA found that at the national level, about 148,458 persons are food insecure or vulnerable to food insecurity representing approximately 8% of the total population (of which 0.6% are severely food insecure) of the 2015 projected population of The Gambia. This represents an increase in the proportion of the food insecure population from 5.6% in the 2011 CFSVA. 29.1 percent of the households interviewed were found to be marginally food insecure. Food insecurity disproportionately affects households residing in predominantly rural areas. Basse, Kuntaur, Janjangbureh and Mansakonko were found to have the highest number of food insecure households in the country. In these four LGAs, the number of food insecure households range between 12 percent and 18 percent. Households headed by non-literate (read or write) are four times more likely to be food insecure than households headed by literate. The results of the survey also indicate that households having access to improved water and sanitation facilities are at least twice less likely to be food insecure.
The majority of Gambian households do not earn more than 20,500 Dalasis annually and monthly household expenditure is approximately 10,643 Dalasi. Average household expenditure on food accounts for approximately 52 percent of the total expenditure. Gambian households largely rely on purchase of food for consumption, have family members who work away from home for more than six months during the year, and depend on informal credit sources (e.g. neighbors, relatives, traders) when borrowing money. Rising food prices and natural disasters are the most prominent factors that have negatively impacted Gambian households’ food access and put them at risk of becoming food insecure in recent years.
The 2016 CFSVA was conducted during the period of the year when food is generally more available and there are less access constraints at household level. Thus the number of food insecure households will increase as the lean season approaches. Compared to the results of the 2011 CFSVA, the food security situation in the country has not improved.
To address the main food security challenges facing the households as the results have shown above, interventions that specifically build resilience to future shocks and disasters should be prioritized. Specifically, the following short, medium and long term measures are recommended (for the government and food security partners) to protect and strengthen livelihoods of the food insecure and vulnerable households:
- Support farmers with inputs to improve yields and expand the area of land put under cultivation.
- Encourage the development of fruit tree farms.
- Promote commercialization of agricultural activities.
- Expand the policy to promote the consumption of other local products in addition to rice.
- Promote diet diversification and the production of crops like cassava, beans to reduce the demand on rice.
- Promote the establishment of small business enterprises (entrepreneurship) focusing on value addition and value chains.
- Provide opportunities for training and skills development in diverse livelihood areas such as fishing, and technical skills for the youth.
- Revitalization of seed and cereal banking schemes to build resilience.
- Social Behavior Change Communication on the important of consuming nutritious food.
- Establish an integrated food security monitoring and early warning system.