The intensified commitment was re-echoed recently at the commemoration of World Food Day 2023 held at Farafenni, North Bank Region.
This year’s commemoration was centred on the theme “Water is life, Water is food”, which encapsulates the essential connection between water and food security, a connection that lies in the heart of the Gambia agricultural landscape.
In his statement, Dr Demba Sabally, Minister for Agriculture, said the desire of the Gambia government is to increase clean water access to all Gambians, which is in line with SDG 6, which aims at ensuring the availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all by 2030.
Minister Sabally highlighted that The Gambia has 558,000 hectares of high-quality arable land, of which only 200,000 hectares is currently under rain-fed agricultural production, which is one of the major challenges in the agricultural sector.
He said the Gambia government through the Ministry of Agriculture has been actively promoting climate-smart agricultural practices, by the provision of certified seeds of early maturing field crops, use of conservation farming practices, agroforestry farming systems, access to affordable fertilizer, and promoting mechanisation with the distribution of tractors, power tillers, and light implements, emphasising on land preservation and sustainable water use.
FAO Representative Moshibudi Rampedi says water is the lifeblood ofagriculture and it underscores FAO’s mission to combat hunger, adding that agriculture is supported by 72% share of global freshwater use and projections of a 35% demand increase by 2050. “Water scarcity, especially affecting women, demands our attention,” she said.
She also recalled that over the past five years, FAO, in partnership with the European Union-funded Agriculture for Economic Growth and the Global Environment Facility funded Adapting Agriculture to Climate Change Projects, spearheaded an initiative that highlighted the importance of access to water for food security.
On behalf of the United Nations Resident Coordinator George Lwanda, FAO Representative Rampedi alluded that with water, rural women become empowered to provide for their families, earn an income, gain financial independence, and transform their communities.
“Just like the government, we see water as not just a resource, but a fundamental right,” she noted. “We pledge to walk this journey with the Gambia government, hand in hand, ensuring every woman, every child, has access to this life-giving force.”
She said their ambition is to work with the government through the National Development Plan to empower Gambia’s rural women through projects that ease their water burden.