Photo: WFP/Mamadou Jallow/2021



of people live in poverty


acute malnutrition rate


people live in Gambia

The Situation

Extending deep into the surrounding state of Senegal from Africa’s Atlantic Coast, Gambia, with a population of around 2.2 million, is facing rising hunger, poverty and malnutrition. Major crises such as the 2015 Ebola outbreak and the consequent reduction in tourism as well as climate-related drought and floods in 2012 and 2016 respectively have all taken their toll on the country’s economy. Gambia’s poverty rate hovers at 48% while hunger has risen from 5 to 8% over the past five years.

Those who are mainly dependent on farming are the most hungry, yet agriculture employs 46% of the population – up to 80% in rural areas. Climate-related crises continuously hurt the availability and price of food, pushing more and more families into hunger.

Agricultural growth has only met half of the national goal, as the sector is stuck in a vicious cycle of low investment and low output – further exacerbated by factors including persistent gender inequalities in access to water, post-harvest losses and inadequate storage. The most vulnerable people are constantly at risk of being unable to purchase sufficient food. Crop production fell by 26% because of long dry spells in 2017, and fluctuating market prices had detrimental effects for vulnerable households, who spend half their income on food.

WFP's Work

WFP has been in Gambia since 1970, supporting school feeding and resilience projects. WFP led humanitarian efforts during the Sahel crisis of 2010 to 2011, and since then has been helping to strengthen the country’s own capacity for building sustainable social protection programs, in particular for school feeding.

  • School Meals: WFP’s school meals programs reach over 115,000 children, half of whom are girls. WFP also provides technical support to help strengthen the capacity of the Government to manage the country’s own national school feeding and other social support programs. In the Central and Upper River Regions, WFP uses a homegrown school feeding model through which local, small-scale farmers provide the food used to prepare school meals. This model aims to alleviate poverty for agricultural workers.
  • Nutrition: To prevent or treat acute and chronic malnutrition, WFP provides nutritious foods to 55,200 people including children under the age of 5, pregnant women and nursing mothers, and those living with HIV/AIDS. WFP works closely with the Government providing capacity transfers and preparing Government to manage its own nutrition programs in the future.
  • Market Support: WFP supports and trains small-scale farmers, especially women, helping them to increase the amount of food they produce and sell. WFP will also help create earning opportunities during lean seasons, employing 5,000 people to create or restore community or individually-owned infrastructure.
  • Climate Resilience: WFP is working with national and subnational institutions to address the adverse effects of climate change and build resilience to extreme weather events. An integrated risk management program – which includes asset creation, microinsurance and rural financial services, forecast-based finance and early action, climate services, and support to farmers to adopt climate-adapted agricultural practices and diversified livelihoods – is being implemented.


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