Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Minister Attributes Problems in Food Security to Financial Crises

AS EU Charge d'Affaires Harps on Unforeseen Needs

VOL:1 ISSN:44 The recent financial crisis has exacerbated the problems associated with food security as it has led to further declines in government revenue and reduced economic activity, the Finance Minister said on Wednesday.
Hon. Abdou Kolley was speaking at the signing of the Contribution Agreement European Union-World Food Programme (EU-WFP) on food security at the Conference Room of the Ministry of Finance and Economic Affairs in Banjul.
The contribution agreement of 2.64 million Euros is equivalent to 100 million Dalasis, which is meant to foster the realisation of food security in The Gambia. 
He noted that part of the funds allocated have been earmarked to support the implementation of an ongoing project of the World Food Programme and for the creation of a vulnerability and analysis mapping. He said this in line with government's identification of key necessary actions in the sector, following an inter-agency World Bank-FAO-WFP Assessment and Country Action Plan identification mission on soaring food prices carried out in the summer of 2008.
According to him, the project, which will start soon, is aimed at extending the coverage of food security net mechanisms through a safety net intervention; improve the targeting and response mechanisms for assisting vulnerable populations most affected by the food security and financial crisis; and help protect vulnerable households from declining purchasing capacities and food price shocks.
Kolley added that the main sources of income stemming from remittances and the tourism sector have also witnessed declines. “This has resulted in The Gambia being identified globally as one of the most vulnerable countries,” he said.
He noted that the high global food prices during 2008 resulted in almost 50 per cent increase in local staple food prices and thus significantly eroded the purchasing power of the local population.
He conceded that the ability for Gambians to meet their food requirements depends on their income levels, although the impact of this situation was felt across the whole country and worst was for urban communities.
On her part, the European Union Charge' d'Affaires, Mme Helene Cave said that the 2.64 million Euros (100M GMD) is part of the so-called B-Envelope, intended to cover the food crises which she called unforeseen needs.
She also explained that the A-Envelope which will cover macroeconomic support, sectoral policies in the field of Infrastructure and Governance for The Gambia amounts to 76 million euros (around D3 billion), while the B-Envelope amounts to 4.45M euros which is approximately D182 million.
“The recent food crises is undeniably an unforeseen event, and therefore the European Union decided to assist those countries very badly impact to fight this crisis and to mitigate its most adverse effects,” she said.
She noted that the project that will be financed by the EU is of course fully in line with the main priorities identified by the Government of The Gambia. This project will be implemented by the WFP who has a world-wide expertise and an undisputable savoir-faire in this field.
In line with the Paris Declaration to improve donors' coordination and harmonization of aid delivery, Mme Cave noted that the EU considered that by far WFP is the best agency to implement this project and therefore, we will sign together a Contribution Agreement, under the auspices of the Government of The Gambia who has also agreed on this implementation mode.

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