- Authorities in The Gambia have assured a loan to finance a nationwide water and soil preservation project. The project, to be executed by the Gambian Ministry of Agriculture, aims at improving food security by fighting land degradation and improving watershed management.
The so-called Participatory Integrated Watershed Management Project (PIWAMP) is to cover the entire country. It is part of the Gambian authorities' efforts to reduce poverty and enhance food security.
The Banjul government today secured financial support from the African Development Bank, which approved of a US$ 7.3 million loan to finance the water project in the country. The loan is from the Nigeria Trust Fund (NTF), and is given on so-called "soft terms". Total costs of the project are set at US$ 17.8 million.
According to the ADB, the project of the Gambian Ministry of Agriculture aims at assisting local communities to "manage agricultural resources through efficient land use." Water and soil management are the crucial components of the project.
The loan is to be used to start "capacity building" among cultivators, which is to "involve training and sensitisation of local communities on the identification of land degradation and management of the environment and agricultural resources." Further, the project includes watershed management measures and a programme to teach grassroots communities how to manage the projects.
- The overall goal of the project is to reduce poverty and enhance household food security by reducing soil erosion on a substantial basis thereby increasing land productivity, according to the project's official description, sent to the ADB by Gambian authorities.
The priority target group is poor smallholders dependent on traditional upland crops and lowland rice cultivation as their main source of livelihood. For lowland development, the primary target group will be women, whereas for upland conservation farming, it will be men.
According to ADB press officer Chawki Chahed, the water project is "expected to operate across the entire country and complement two ongoing ADB sponsored projects." These include the "semi-urban smallholder improvement project" and the "rural finance and community initiative project" in The Gambia, according to Mr Chahed.
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