The Gambia is experiencing the ‘triple burden of malnutrition in which under-nutrition, over-nutrition, and micro-nutrient deficiencies co-exist, says Dr. Amat Bah, the Acting Director of the National Nutrition Agency (NaNA).
Bah was speaking during a handing over ceremony of the People’s Republic of Japan’s support worth 1.5 US Dollars through the World Food Programme (WFP) to provide nutritional assistance to the most vulnerable women and children in The Gambia.
“Although there has been some improvement in reducing under-nutrition over the years, the prevalence rates are still unacceptably high, while overweight and obesity are slowly on the increase,” said Amat Bah.
Bah said despite registering gains in reducing malnutrition in the country over the past decades from 25 percent in 2013 to 18 percent in 2019/2020 for stunting, child undernutrition remains a persistent threat to the lives of Gambian children.
“This translates to 1 in every 6 children being stunted, which indicates that chronic food and nutrition insecurity is still prevalent in The Gambia,” he said.
Meanwhile, the latest food insecurity analysis estimated that sixty thousand people, 30 percent of the population, are food insecure, with one and fourteen thousand men and women and children severely affected during the lean season from June to August 2021.
Addressing the gaps, the WFP would, through this support project, provide fortified blended foods to malnourished children under 5, pregnant women, and breastfeeding mothers and mothers living with HIV to address moderate acute malnutrition. WFP will also support nutritional education and awareness-raising to increase the knowledge and skills of caregivers, mothers, adolescent girls, households, and community leaders in best feeding practices.
“This support came at a critical time when COVID 19 pandemic, seasonal climate shocks including flash floods and windstorms are causing the hardest blow in families’ food insecurity situation. We are grateful for Japan’s generous contribution to our work in the Gambia,” said Yasuhiro Tsumura, WFP’s Representative in The Gambia.
The Ambassador of Japan to the Gambia Arai Tatsuo said the project, among other things, seeks to assist in achieving the overall objectives to improve nutrition and care practices among children who are 6 to 59 months, pregnant and lactating women, and girls in food-insecure households across the country
“A healthy diet in sufficient quantity can help the body resistance to diseases. This is why Japan proposed two initiatives in that respect. “Africa Health and Wellbeing Initiative” and the “initiatives for Food and Nutrition Security in Africa (IFNA)” at the occasion of the TICAD7 Meeting held in Yokohama in August 2019,” he said.