Monday, October 3

D222m Covid-19 Food Aid to Rural Areas Remains Undistributed

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By Kebba Ansu Manneh

The second phase of the Gambia government’s Covid-19 food aid to the rural part of the country worth D222 Million (two hundred and twenty-two million dalasi) remains undistributed to Gambians.

This scheme was launched by the Ministry of Agriculture and World Food Programme (WFP) targeting poor and vulnerable households with less than four (4) months of food stock surviving on daily wages without regular income or remittances.

It also targets households with malnourished children, women, and elderly headed households. However, the second phase of the scheme is still hanging in the balance for two years after the completion of the first round of distribution in February 2021.

The Voice Newspaper has been reliably informed that nine thousand three hundred and thirty-four ( 9,334) poor and most vulnerable households in the Central River Region (CRR) are yet to receive their supplies, while more than 2,000 metric tons of rice are yet to be delivered to beneficiaries across the country.

“We are very concerned about the fate of our relief supply that was supposed to be delivered in April 2021. We received our first consignment in February 2021, and the second consignment should have followed in April but up to today no grain of rice is received,” Ebrima Manneh, a beneficiary of the Government Rice Distribution Scheme disclosed.

He added: “Since last year we have been following this supply through the Ministry of Trade, Agriculture, WFP, and NDMA but we are not getting any positive response from either of them. We were told that these supplies were bought by the taxpayers’ monies meant to help the poor and the most vulnerable people across the country that should have been supplied since April 2021. But I can inform you that up to today no supply arrive.”

A local Councilor who prefers anonymity said he has personally been engaging the stakeholders on this relief package, noting that anytime he enquires a notice of one or two weeks is always given by the stakeholders that they never honoured.

He called on the Gambian government to launch investigations into the Rice Distribution Scheme that was launched by the then Vice President. While he reminded the government that the delay in the supply of the relief package to the vulnerable including women, and heads of households is frustrating and unbearable.

“I believe something is holding this supply and it is only the government who can intervene and resolve this matter. Anytime we enquire about the supply we are always told that ‘either next week or two your supply will come but this is to no avail,” the local Councilor explained. The Voice Newspaper also spoke with an insider at the Ministry of Trade who disclosed that the delay in the distribution of the relief supply is due to the reluctance of some companies who are yet to deliver the supply to the World Food Programme (WFP) for onward delivery to the vulnerable families in Central River and West Coast Regions.

He revealed that Soninkara Enterprise, Win Win Oils, and Rahma Trading have continuously failed to deliver their supplies to WFP stores, noting that these companies have been fully paid with taxpayer’s monies to do the supply.

He added that the Ministry of Trade was responsible for the procurement process, while the Ministry of Agriculture affected the payment of these Companies that defaulted to make the Covid-19, Rice Relief Package meant for the poor and vulnerable people of The Gambia.