The Gambian President Adama Barrow says Wednesday the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on human lives and livelihoods is extremely destructive.
President Barrow was addressing the virtual extraordinary sessional summit of heads of state and government of the Organization of African, Caribbean and Pacific States (OACPS).
The theme of the conference was premised on ‘transcending the COVID-19 pandemic: building resilience through global solidarity.’ Barrow says it’s therefore important to place the human being at the centre of our deliberations.
“The impact of the pandemic on human lives and livelihoods is extremely destructive. It has disrupted the momentum and gains made towards achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and other development targets,” he said.
Barrow stated that The Gambia has adopted measures to contain the spread of the coronavirus, including declaring a State of Public Emergency, observing WHO regulations and mitigating the impact of such strict measures on the public.
“…however, the pandemic has impacted severely on both the formal and informal sectors of our economy.”
He seeks more urgent attention to both sectors, noting that the informal sector contributes crucially towards sustaining livelihoods and to GDP.
“In short, the impact on employment, government revenue and the subsistence of the people is immensely negative,” he said.
The Gambian leader says the containment measures will have multiple effects in both urban and rural settings.
“Economically, women and the youth are the most vulnerable groups, as their income generating activities centre heavily on the Tourism, Fisheries and Artisanal Industries,” he added.
“It is imperative, therefore, that we seize this opportunity to call upon our development partners to collaborate with us to respond effectively to the economic challenges posed by COVID-19. With respect to SDG 11, on sustaining urban settlements, this is particularly relevant for such vulnerable sectors.”
He challenged his colleagues to outline strategies and action points to minimize disruption to the food and agriculture systems, while adequately supporting the livelihoods of all vulnerable groups.
“Furthermore, sustaining Agricultural production and strengthening food systems need to be intensified urgently for Member States whose economies rest heavily on commodity exports and food imports.”
He stressed that financing development should be central to discussions on building resilient economies and advancing social inclusion and development.