poverty conditions in The GambiaThe Gambia is a West African country on the Atlantic coast. In 2019, the Human Development Index ranked The Gambia as 174 out of 189 countries. Despite the progress displayed in recent years, particularly in primary education, issues such as food shortages, malnutrition and poverty have only worsened. Roughly 48% of the population live in poverty conditions in The Gambia.

The Gambia’s Economy

Peanut farming and processing remain the most significant industries in the country. The peanut crop is sold to The Gambia Groundnut Corporation. This company assigns the prices for the season in advance, pays the farmers and producers and then sells the product overseas. Once the peanuts are deshelled, they are pressed into oil at pressing mills. The leftover residue is used to make cattle cake.

As the tourism industry grows in size, the construction industry has grown in tandem. Other small industries branch off into selling and manufacturing food products, beverages, footwear, woods and textiles. But as one might expect, this dependence on agriculture limits The Gambia’s ability to make significant headway in advancing economic stability and infrastructure. The situation is worsened by the successive shocks of droughts and floods causing widespread damage, suffering and loss of life. These unyielding weather patterns and weak food production systems caused food insecurity to slowly rise over the past few years.

Housing and Employment

In general, most village houses consist of circular mud huts with thatched roofs. On rare occasions, they build several single-story concrete buildings. The location of homes in a particular community plays a large role in high levels of poverty, as well as with economic and social exclusion. The poor are more likely to live in larger polygamous family units, have more dependent children and live without electricity.

Informal jobs abound. The lack of off-farm labor opportunities in rural areas results in underemployment and outmigration, especially among women and youth. Also, The Gambia’s population is increasing at an incredibly fast rate. This speed is far outpacing the housing supply and the rate at which homes can be built. As a consequence, both villages and larger towns experience overcrowding populations. These conditions contribute to the development of slums in larger communities and poverty conditions in The Gambia.


Despite improvements made since The Gambia achieved independence, the overall state of national health is very poor. Inadequate sanitation directly causes most cases of illness. About one-third of people do not have access to safe drinking water. Malaria poses the most significant health threat, while other tuberculosis and various parasitic diseases are also highly prevalent health issues.

Even though The Gambia has a lower number of HIV/AIDS cases than many other African nations, it increased among younger women during the 2000s. On the other hand, the infant mortality rate in The Gambia is one of the highest in all of Africa, only made worse by the nation’s very young population. About two-thirds of all citizens of The Gambia are under 30 years old. A long-standing shortage of healthcare workers in The Gambia adversely affects the staffing of medical facilities, particularly in rural areas. To address this problem, the government established a medical school to train its doctors and implemented a series of healthcare strategies.

A Brighter Future

The Gambia’s environment, extreme reliance on agriculture and general lack of everyday necessities such as medical care places its citizens in poverty levels that are difficult to escape. But thankfully, hope exists in the many organizations that are working tirelessly to spread awareness and donate money and resources to The Gambia. One prime example is ActionAid Gambia, a nonprofit charity that focuses on achieving social justice, gender equality, and poverty eradication. Founded in 1972, the organization works to promote sustainable agriculture, improve the quality of public education for all children, advocate for women to receive economic alternatives and have control of their reproductive health rights and provide support towards eradicating diseases such as HIV/AIDS and Malaria. Over time and through many people’s efforts, it is possible to speed up the process of development to help decrease poverty conditions in The Gambia.

– Aditya Daita
Photo: Flickr

Women’s Rights in the Gambia
The Gambia, a country half the size of New Jersey and located in West Africa, is home to 1 million women. The country has a secular constitution and its legal system uses English common law and some aspects of Sharia Law. Under this legal system, women rarely own property. Moreover, they frequently face obstacles in education access and their prenatal/postpartum care is poor, resulting in high maternal mortality rates. Here is some information about women’s rights in The Gambia and efforts to improve them.

Injustices Gambian Women Face

In terms of education access and financial freedom, women’s rights in The Gambia are not equitable. Only 47% of Gambian women are literate in comparison to 64% of men, so most women are at a disadvantage from the start. Additionally, 26% of Gambian girls marry before they turn 18, which allows minimal time to gain pre-marriage financial independence. In 2009, 80% of women worked in the agriculture sector, but only 30% received cash earnings in comparison to 43% of men. Under the customary practice, instead of owning the land they cultivate, women borrow it from their husbands. The women who own property cannot receive more than one-third of the estate, as Sharia Law permits. This is a challenge because most banks will not grant credit unless the applicant owns land which puts women in a difficult situation.

Level The Law Campaign

In 2018, Gambian Attorney General and Minister of Justice, Abubacarr Tambadou, attended the Global Citizen Festival in New York to share The Gambia’s commitment to the Level The Law Campaign. Two years prior, Global Citizen started the campaign to outlaw discrimination against females and gender-based violence by 2030. In response to more than 10,000 Global Citizen tweets, Tambadou renewed the commitment to protecting women’s rights in The Gambia, which vows to repeal all laws that promote gender-based violence, prevent equal political participation and hinder reproductive health.

A statement by Tambadou said that UNICEF organized training for Gambian Law Enforcement Agencies on legislation about child marriage. Also, to demonstrate The Gambia’s commitment to include women in justice systems, half of the appointees to the superior Courts of The Gambia are women. Additionally, four of the seven Court of Appeal judges are women, with a woman serving as president. Finally, Gambia is drafting a new Constitution that ensures more gender-responsive legislation.

New Laws for an Equitable Future

Social justice mobility did not start there. The Women’s Act, passed in 2010, protects women’s rights under the Constitution, which includes human rights protection, the right to health, protection against discrimination, marriage consent and special measures supporting women (the government and private institutions must work towards gender equality). It also ensures that girls who are married or have children can stay in school, protecting them from getting expelled. In 2015, the National Assembly amended the Act to include the prohibition of Female Genital Mutilation (FGM). However, the Act does not regulate certain rights for Muslim women such as child custody, widow inheritance and divorce. These remain subject to Sharia Law.

The Sexual Offenses Act, passed in 2013, amends the procedure of rape trial and other sexual offenses. Meanwhile, the Domestic Violence Act, passed in the same year, protects domestic violence survivors.

Before these laws passed, sexual harassment and Female Genital Mutilation were legal. FGM is a common practice in The Gambia that results in devastating physical and psychological consequences. Fortunately, it is on the decline, although about 75% of women aged 15-49 and 50% of girls under age 15 have undergone it. Although the Women’s Act outlaws discrimination in reproductive health services, women still lack access to vital reproductive resources.

There is a long road ahead to gender equity. Luckily, with more female representation in the public sphere, women’s rights in The Gambia are on the rise. Gambian women bring a new perspective to the table, one that serves in their best interest.

– Rebecca Pomerantz
Photo: Flickr

Healthcare in The Gambia
The Gambia is a growing country with high income inequality and high poverty rates. The poverty rate in rural communities is 70%, while in urban communities it is only 32%. These high poverty rates negatively impact access to healthcare, making healthcare in The Gambia a significant concern. Without access, many people in The Gambia face communicable diseases without the ability to receive proper treatment. This lack of access to healthcare and the impact of communicable diseases have been exacerbated by the recent outbreak of COVID-19. However, organizations are stepping in to help The Gambia improve its healthcare system. Here are five facts about healthcare in The Gambia during COVID-19.

5 Facts About Healthcare in The Gambia During COVID-19

  1. The Gambia announced its first COVID-19 case on Mar. 17. The government responded by preparing the people for travel restrictions, closing schools and suspending public gatherings. The Ministry of Health began providing resources via social media. On Facebook, the number of cases is updated every day. It provides information on how to wear a mask, social distancing and how to reach the coronavirus hotline.
  2. The Gambia received outside support. This happened on Mar. 28, a little more than a week after announcing its first case. The Jack Ma and Alibaba Foundations in China stepped in to help not only The Gambia, but 54 countries in Africa. The foundations donated 20, 000 test kits, 1000, 000 masks, 740 sets of protective clothing and 1000 sets of protective shields.
  3. COVID-19 could exacerbate the situation for those already living in, or close to, poverty. About 48.6% of The Gambia’s population lives below the poverty line. This means that many people are vulnerable to the impact of COVID-19, specifically economically. At the same time, it could also cause people who have made economic advances to move back into poverty. Since poverty negatively impacts access to healthcare, this could mean more of The Gambia’s population is unable to receive the treatment they need.
  4. The World Bank is stepping in. Since the pandemic started, The World Bank has been sending funding to provide support for many countries in need. The bank’s funding in The Gambia will enhance COVID-19 case detection and tracking. It will also improve treatment centers and strengthen disease surveillance and diagnostic capacity.
  5. The government has been working to improve healthcare. The Gambia National Health Sector Strategic Plan 2014-2020 (NHSSP) guides healthcare in the nation. The plan’s goal is to reduce inequalities in health care services and reverse the downward trend in health-related outcome indicators. The Ministry of Health and Social Welfare (MOHSW) conducts annual reviews of the plan to see where improvements still need to be made. The NHSSP is still in effect during COVID-19; however, it will wrap up at the end of 2020. Moving forward, a new plan is needed to ensure a continued focus on improving access to healthcare in The Gambia.


COVID-19 has exacerbated existing problems with healthcare in The Gambia by making those in poverty, or who have just escaped it, more vulnerable. As a result, many organizations have stepped in to help The Gambia during the COVID-19 pandemic. Moving forward, these organizations as well as the government must continue to make improving healthcare a priority.

Melody Kazel
Photo: Flickr

Hunger in the Gambia
The Gambia is a country located in Western Africa near the country of Senegal. Over the past 5 years, The Gambia has been dealing with an increase in food insecurity. This increase is largely due to the 2018 drought which caused a decrease in food production. In 2019, The Gambia only produced 50% of the food supply needed, leaving many to go hungry. As food insecurity continues to rise, from 5% to 8% in recent years, many organizations are stepping in to help decrease hunger in The Gambia.  

The Fight Against Hunger in The Gambia

The World Food Programme (WFP) is an organization that has been committed to helping individuals in The Gambia since 1970. WFP has created a campaign designed to bringing food to households and schools in The Gambia. It is estimated that 10,000 households have been affected by hunger. The main focus is to send money and food to certain areas in The Gambia, specifically households that may need more support during the food crisis. More vulnerable populations include women, persons with disabilities and people suffering from diseases such as HIV. Through the WFP’s school program, the organization has helped 115,000 children throughout primary and pre-schools.

UNICEF, WFP, and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) worked with The Gambia’s government in 2017 to launch the ‘Post-Crisis Response to Food and Nutrition Insecurity in The Gambia.’ The program aims to help decrease hunger in The Gambia. Not only will it help to fund and bring food to the country, but it also aims to help farmers produce sustainable agriculture.

Malnutrition in The Gambia

Malnutrition largely affects individuals in rural areas of The Gambia. Underfunding, lack of resources, such as foods high in vitamins, and limited knowledge of nutrition are all factors in the problem of malnutrition. Though malnutrition in children has decreased from 23% in 2010 to 19% in 2018, there is still more work to be done. In 2016 UNICEF worked closely with The Gambia’s government to help address malnutrition. UNICEF is urging the officials to have better funding within the healthcare system in regard to nutrition.

Small Victories

The ‘Post-Crisis Response to Food and Nutrition Insecurity in The Gambia’ was also able to donate nearly 3,000 metric tons of nutritious foods, in the hopes of bringing down malnutrition rates. The European Commission has also funded additional programs that not only help supply nutritional food resources, but also educational promotions about nutrition as it relates to infant and child feeding. These programs help to bring resources to rural areas of The Gambia while also informing youth about how to address the issues of hunger and malnutrition.

Over the past few years, The Gambia has been facing increased food insecurity. Providing resources to the public on malnutrition and hunger is more important than ever, as 48% of Gambians are still living in poverty. Programs such as the ones organized by UNICEF and WFP are working to decrease hunger in the coming years. 

Olivia Eaker
Photo: Flickr

Gambia’s Solar Park
In 2019, the Gambian government announced that it would construct a solar park, the first 150 MWH utility-scale park in the nation. Apart from the government’s greater initiative to improve the Gambia’s energy reliability and affordability, the government plans to launch the solar park in two phases: an 80 MWH unit set for 2021 and a 70 MWH unit set for 2025.

The Background

Prior to national elections in 2016, the Gambian government struggled with a decreasing GDP, poor macroeconomic performance and high liabilities from the National Water and Electricity Company (NAWEC) and other state-owned enterprises. As cited in a 2018 World Bank report, the governing bodies of SOE’s such as NAWEC were highly inefficient and caused internal dysfunction under President Yahya Jammeh’s leadership. The government’s inconsistent budget support to NAWEC resulted in a “fiscal drain on public resources” and inadequate energy supply.

Therefore, as apart of the region’s master plan to increase energy availability to the public, the current Gambian administration will conduct a study measuring the feasibility of implementing a 150 MWH solar park. The park will connect to a substation in Soma, The Gambia, which is a grid infrastructure that should increase electricity access in the nation by 60 percent. The feasibility study will have three primary objectives:

  1. To select the land for the solar park.
  2. To finalize solar power station details.
  3. To evaluate the feasibility of creating a National Dispatch Center.

The Process

In selecting land for The Gambia’s solar park, consultants will choose a land size of around 250 Hectares within a 20 km perimeter from the Soma substation. They will conduct studies that measure the potential constraint to connect the substation to the park. Once consultants choose an ideal site, they will proceed to finalize aspects of the power station. The power station will produce shifts in solar energy for two to three hours toward the peak of each evening. Through a detailed study, consultants will need to confirm the phases required for the installation of the park and proceed to undertake a diagnosis for the creation of a dispatch center. Through a diagnosis, consultants will be able to construct an “evaluation of required investments in capacity building (research, training), and modernization of the network (hardware equipment, software, smart grid technology, etc.).”

The government plans to construct the park not only to provide further electricity to The Gambia’s citizens but to also reduce the electricity costs for SOEs and the government. The government plans to remove the system of auction organized with public-private partnerships (private banks, etc.) as a means to reduce the cost of electricity for SOEs and citizens.

As the first of its kind, The Gambia’s solar park will increase Gambians’ access to electricity by 25 percent. The park will serve as one of the administration’s first steps in transforming the nation into a hub for sustainable energy.

– Niyat Ogbazghi
Photo: Flickr

Maternal Health in the Gambia

Maternal health continues to be a concern in developing countries around the world. Although overall maternal mortality decreased by 44 percent from 1990 to 2015, many nations still have a long way to go if the goal of fewer than 70 deaths per 100,000 live births is to be reached by 2030. Of note, despite improvements, the maternal mortality in The Gambia remains one of the highest in the world, with 706 maternal deaths per 100,000 live births.

Maternal mortality is a reflection of the disparities between the rich and the poor, with 94 percent of all maternal deaths occurring in developing countries. The fact that 50 percent of The Gambia’s population lives below the poverty line contributes to the high rates of maternal mortality in the nation.

A majority of the complications that lead to maternal deaths are preventable or treatable. However, either because the mother is giving birth outside of a health care facility or due to a lack of supplies or expertise, the necessary care is not always provided.

The main causes of maternal deaths are severe bleeding, infections, high blood pressure and delivery complications. Other deaths are caused by malaria, AIDS and other diseases.

Contributing Factors

In The Gambia, the national maternal mortality ratio decreased by 46 percent between 1995 and 2015. This can, in part, be attributed to an increase in antenatal care coverage, as 86.2 percent of Gambian women now receive antenatal care from a skilled health professional.

For deliveries, however, only 57.2 percent take place in the presence of a skilled health professional. Most women deliver at home with a traditional birth attendant; the main barriers to giving birth in a health care facility being insufficient time to travel and lack of transportation.

Maternal health in The Gambia is further complicated by social and cultural factors that contribute to pregnancy complications and the low percentage of women who give birth at a health facility or with a health professional. A study done in rural Gambia found that there were four interrelated factors that impacted maternal health:

  • Pregnant women’s heavy workload
  • The gendered division of labor
  • Women’s inferior status in the household
  • Limited access to and utilization of health care

Women in rural Gambia generally work alongside their husbands on farms, a fact that does not change even with pregnancy. Gambian women described being physically and emotionally exhausted from physical labor in the field and the house, noting that they did not get sufficient rest at any point during their pregnancy.

This is connected to the way labor is divided between men and women, as women often work longer hours than their husbands, regardless of whether they are pregnant or not. Social practices prevent men from doing certain household chores while their wives are pregnant to allow them to get more rest, which contributes to poor maternal health in The Gambia.

The activities that women continue to perform can also have negative impacts. Women noted that they had to fetch and carry water from long distances, pick groundnuts and cook with firewood, all of which are health risks for pregnant women.

Additionally, women have less control than their husbands, largely because they are economically dependent on them. Despite doing equal work in the field and more work in the house, women receive no financial benefits. This keeps them from becoming economically independent and forces them to rely on their husbands, giving their husbands more power.

As a result, many women who wanted to stop working could not unless their husbands allowed it. They also could not make certain decisions, including where to give birth, without the oversight of their husbands, contributing to a lack of utilization of health care facilities. As women are often required to work up until they give birth, their workload prevents them from being able to travel to a health care facility in time for delivery.

Improving maternal health in The Gambia, therefore, is connected to women’s autonomy. In addition to improving access to health care facilities and ensuring adequate supplies are available, work needs to be done to ensure that families are educated about the dangers of working during pregnancy and that women have the ability to make decisions for themselves about where to give birth.

Improvement Efforts

Other efforts are also important to decreasing maternal mortality in The Gambia. Within the last decade, the Horizons Trust Gambia and The Gambian Ministry of Health partnered with an organization called Soapbox to launch the Maternal Cleanliness Champions Initiative aimed at reducing infections from childbirth.

One of the main projects of this initiative is the distribution of Clean Birth Kits, which include soap, a clean blade and a clean plastic sheet to help ensure that expectant mothers have sanitary materials regardless of whether they are giving birth at a hospital or at home.

The Maternal Cleanliness Champions Initiative also worked to create a manual for cleanliness standards at health care facilities in The Gambia, adapting the manual to work with the local context of each hospital. The program also supported the training of facility staff to ensure that they knew how to adequately clean to prevent infections and other health complications.

These important efforts need to be combined with others to form a holistic approach to improving maternal health in The Gambia. Only coordinated efforts that are adapted to cultural and social contexts will be successful in significantly reducing maternal mortality in the nation.

– Sara Olk
Photo: Flickr


Credit Access in The Gambia
Credit access in The Gambia is supported by the efforts of many different financial aid organizations. The credit and financial system as a whole is the focus of organizations such as the International Monetary Fund. Other programs, such as the World Bank, are working on several projects to improve the financial situation of The Gambia overall.

To aid in this goal, the World Bank has recently approved the Integrated Financial Management Information System Project AF2 and the Third Education Project – Additional Financing. The need for financial assistance in The Gambia is widely recognized and is something that these organizations are looking to address.

The International Monetary Fund provides funding to countries it approves for financial assistance based on economic need. According to the organization, 198 countries across the world receive assistance from the International Monetary Fund.

Progress in Credit Access in The Gambia

Credit access in the Gambia, as with credit access in any country, is improved when the country has more economic and financial resources. Not only are people able to take part in an economy that is healthier and more prosperous, but the government is able to put these funds toward credit and has more options as far as what to support or rebuild with the financial assistance that it receives.

There are several banks in The Gambia as well as organizations that provide credit within the country. There are also a number of organizations that allow people to donate to The Gambia that are easily accessible. For example, Aid for Africa lists several organizations that allow donations.

Although not all of the donations listed for The Gambia appear to be directly linked to assisting the country with its credit issues, indirect assistance such as donating to help children get textbooks can take citizens’ focus off of providing for their educational or everyday needs and allow them to focus more on other investments.

Citizens and Travelers’ Access to Personal Funds

Although the financial situation and credit access in The Gambia are still being improved, travelers wishing to access their own credit will not be limited when traveling through the country. According to AccessGambia, there are several banks that provide credit access for travelers visiting The Gambia. Although not all are accessible, those who are traveling can learn about the credit cards that will be most effective. These organizations are available for citizens to use as well.

As organizations continue to improve and support the economy of The Gambia and the financial situations of other countries, the world’s economy will be improved. With more participation in credit organizations and larger markets, people are able to network and access opportunities that they might otherwise not be able to access. It is important to support credit access and finance in other countries because it allows people to be more autonomous, to provide for their basic needs and to pursue personal goals that would otherwise not be available to them. These are all important steps in alleviating poverty, both in The Gambia and around the world.

– Gabriella Evans

Photo: Flickr

Power Up Gambia
Healthcare remains an issue that requires constant attention around the globe. Many work to stop the spread of disease, provide vaccinations and treatments, monitor women’s health and accomplish many more vital tasks. One organization, however, uses a different approach to improving healthcare — Power Up Gambia works to provide solar power to improve healthcare facilities within the Gambia.


Healthcare in the Dark

The Gambia is one of the smallest and poorest countries in Africa. Healthcare is delivered by only five hospitals, and most citizens receive their healthcare from rural health clinics throughout the country. Power Up Gambia was founded when Kathryn Hall, a medical student, visited the Gambia in 2002.

Power Up Gambia board member, Dee Bertino, spoke to The Borgen Project, and described Hall’s reaction to this trip as being “overcome at how the hospitals and medical clinics struggled to meet their patient’s most basic needs without reliable electricity.”

She went on to describe some of what she witnessed during this trip including, “Caesareans and other surgeries were often performed by candlelight, premature infants died without access to an incubator, life-saving vaccines were destroyed without adequate refrigeration.” When Hall returned to the United States, she began fundraising to provide electricity to these Gambian healthcare facilities.


Solar-Powered Solution

Power Up Gambia took on the problem of healthcare in the Gambia and decided on the clean and efficient solution of solar power. The organization has been able to provide electricity to hospitals and serve a total of over 1.6 million patients. These actions not only provide light but also life-saving water, heat and refrigeration for medication.

So far, Power Up Gambia has brought electricity to 23 hospitals and clinics. The Gambia has over 60 health clinics in rural communities that bring healthcare to farmers, but most still do not have access to electricity. They have partnered with We Care Solar and, as of 2017, were able to bring portable solar power kits to every one of these locations. This assistance has been crucial during nighttime health emergencies. and the organization also keeps spare parts for these kits on hand and trains Gambian technicians to be able to complete any potential repairs.

These technicians are trained at the Gambia Technical Training Institute where Power Up Gambia has implemented a curriculum on solar energy and solar technology to ensure the sustainability of health centers.


Future for Gambian Healthcare

Power Up Gambia has been able to do significant work in The Gambia, but its work is far from finished. The organization is currently working to upgrade its systems to meet increasing needs as well as installing a new “green” battery that will provide more power with less of an environmental impact. Bertino says, “At Power Up Gambia, we believe that healthcare should not just be limited to the wealthy.” With continued support, Power Up Gambia will continue to improve the Gambian healthcare system and provide a healthier future for all citizens.

– Megan Burtis

Photo: Pixabay

Humanitarian Aid to The GambiaThe Gambia occupies a small portion of West Africa and surrounds the Gambia River. Although only encompassing 4,491 total square miles, The Gambia is home to a population of almost 2.1 million. The success of humanitarian aid to The Gambia has only improved the lives of its citizens. These are three organizations that have worked to provide this aid.

Project Gambia

Project Gambia has been working since 2010 to bring volunteers to The Gambia and better the lives of its citizens, mainly in the Gunjur region of the country. The organization is based out of the United Kingdom. Their projects do not address one specific issue but cover a wide variety of societal needs.

Related to health, the organization has trained 420 people in emergency first aid as well as providing them with fully stocked first aid kits and reference books. In addition, the organization worked to refurbish a community health center with supplies, furniture and health information. They have also specifically addressed the problem of malaria by organizing a malaria awareness event, attended by 200 community members, and created a short film to raise awareness about malaria in the U.K.

In relation to general well-being, they have also built four wells and provided supplies for a women’s garden plot. The organization also refurbished two local schools, including playgrounds with newly planted trees. They have also done work in the U.K., such as collecting over 20 tons of recycled goods that they then shared within Gambian communities.

Foundation Humanitarian Aid Gambia (FHAG)

The Foundation Humanitarian Aid Gambia was founded in 1996 by a couple from the Netherlands who added a Gambia-based board in 2003. Their work has been focused on specific projects revolving around family and social issues.

The FHAG Orphan Project is their largest undertaking. The project involves finding safe foster families for orphaned children but also works to ensure that orphans receive the same opportunities as other children in their area. This includes ensuring food security, housing and education for orphans in The Gambia. One beneficiary of this project was able to earn a bachelor’s degree in agriculture with their help and now volunteers with the organization to repay them. The foundation still does work in health and education in addition to this project, including donating 75 desktop computers to the Ministry of Basic and Secondary Education.

Power Up Gambia

Power Up Gambia (PUG) specifically focuses on health in The Gambia, but in a unique way. They work with the Ministry of Health to bring electricity to medical centers with solar power. This humanitarian aid to The Gambia not only provides light but also life-saving water, heat and refrigeration for medication.

Power Up Gambia has brought electricity to 23 hospitals and clinics so far. The Gambia has over 60 health clinics in rural communities that provide healthcare to farmers, but most do not have access to electricity. PUG has partnered with We Care Solar to bring 58 portable solar power kits to these locations, which have been crucial during nighttime health emergencies. PUG also keeps spare parts for these kits on hand and trains Gambian technicians to complete any potential repairs. These technicians are trained at the Gambia Technical Training Institute where Power Up Gambia has implemented a curriculum on solar energy and solar technology to ensure the sustainability of the health centers the organization has provided power for.

The success of humanitarian aid to The Gambia provides a very bright future for the country. With the help of these organizations and others, the Gambian people’s lives will only continue to improve and grow.

– Megan Burtis

Photo: Flickr

development projects in the gambiaThe Gambia is a relatively small country in Western Africa, surrounded by Senegal. It has maintained political stability since independence in 1965. Despite this, the country still faces a multitude of issues which development projects in The Gambia seek to address.

In 2017, former President Jammeh’s 21-year reign came to an end. The citizens elected President Adama Barrow to office with hopes of ushering in a new era for The Gambia. Below are five development projects in the Gambia that are currently being implemented.

Food and Agriculture Sector Development Project (FASDEP)

With arable land and poor soil quality, food production has been a constant struggle for The Gambia. The Food and Agriculture Sector Development Project focuses on community-based pond fish-farming. It has worked towards assuaging food shortages since 2015.

FASDEP has provided the necessary tools and constructed 45 ponds to date. Each pond is expected to bring a profit of $217. The 200 ponds supported by FASDEP have and will continue to provide income and food security.

The Maternal and Child Nutrition Health Results Project

The Maternal and Child Nutrition Health Results Project, funded by the World Bank and other donors, has the goal of improving overall nutrition and health of women and children living in The Gambia. Many aspects are included in this project such as improving the health system, improving health service delivery, and promoting reproductive and maternal health through proper nutrition.

The project has also identified 12 practices carried out by both families and communities which they believe will enhance child survival rates. Included in these are basic hygiene and sanitation practices. The project continues to promote healthcare and implement these practices in specific regions of the country.

National Agricultural Land and Water Management Development Project (NEMA)

This project specifically works to aid women and young adults in The Gambia and reduce poverty rates. By implementing sustainable land and water management practices, productivity will increase among this group.

The main goals of NEMA include addressing the proper use of farmland and the development of domestic markets. These goals will be met by enhancing the usage of watershed areas, which are key to many ecosystems and usable for crop production, and by making agriculture profit-oriented, which gives an income to these women and young adults.

The Participatory Integrated-Watershed Management Project

This project more deeply focuses on the development of watershed management in The Gambia. The project works specifically in rural areas to not only increase income but also to protect natural resources, of which watersheds are a critical component.

The targets of this project are broader and include anyone who manages or relies on crops for an income. Citizens take the reins in this project and plan and implement the recommended practices independently.

A variety of issues are addressed through the Watershed Management project such as women’s rights, malaria prevention, environmental sustainability and more. In the future, this idea may expand to broader development projects in the Gambia and other potential countries.

The Emergency Development Policy Operation Project

The Emergency Development Policy Operation Project has been implemented in the last six months of 2017. In direct response to an economic crisis in The Gambia following a poor agricultural and tourist season, the project works to not only strengthen the country’s financial position but also provide key services to citizens that otherwise may have gone unfunded.

Specifically, the project hopes to mitigate the consequences to the country’s health centers. The $56 million project will continue to provide financial support and will also implement sustainable measures to ensure the financial security of the country going forward.

These five development projects in The Gambia have been vital to the survival of the country and will continue to be as citizens learn to become economically self-sufficient and sustainable. The Gambia has seen many struggles since gaining independence, but with the aid of these projects, the people may truly become independent.

– Megan Burtis

Photo: Flickr