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President Barrow launches over D700M Covid-19 Food aid to 84% needy households


By Arfang MS Camara

President Adama Barrow has on Sunday launched government’s covid-19 food support worth of D734,254,864 (Seven hundred and thirty-four thousand two hundred and fifty-four thousand eight hundred and sixty-four) to 84% of needy Gambian households across the country.
The ceremony which was held at the McCarty Square in Banjul was also attended by cabinet members and other top government officials.

As part of the launched covid-19 food support to Gambians, The Gambia government intends to distribute 360, 000 bags of 50kg of 100% broken rice, 360, 000 50kg bags of sugar and 360, 000 10litre drums of refined cooking oil to the needy Gambian citizens across the country.
“Following a thorough review exercise, an amount of seven hundred and thirty-four million, two hundred and fifty-four thousand eight hundred and sixty-four dalasis (GMD734,254,864) worth of food items is now available to support 84% deserving households countrywide. Such support will include rice, oil and sugar to each of the vulnerable households identified,” says the Gambian leader.

The Gambian Leader was quick to add that this amount is different from the five hundred million Dalasis (D500 Million) already earmarked for the Ministry of Health to upgrade and sufficiently strengthen the health system to address the covid-19 challenges and beyond.
“My government recognises that Gambians deserve an urgent national response to both the health and socio-economic crises resulting from losses in productivity and remittances to Gambian households.”
He added that they will ensure that support provided to all citizens, especially the vulnerable, is real in value.

“Conscious of the difficulties that confront many households, the Government has devised strict measures to ensure that our food stock is secure. I am informed by the Ministry of Trade that supplies of rice, sugar, flour and other food items are available.”

President Barrow also emphasised that under the emergency powers, strict regulations are in place to make sure that people hiking prices, hoarding or attempting to smuggle food items outside the country are brought to book.
“Transparency and accountability form the cornerstone of our governance system. To uphold these principles and guarantee financial discipline and management of the resources available for the pandemic, a single government account has been opened to cater for rapid one-stop financial transactions.”

President Barrow added that distributions and monitoring mechanisms have been put in place involving the relevant institutions and local government authorities, adding that distribution Points have been identified and vouchers will be used to reach the household beneficiaries with the government Food Support.

“A Donation Committee has already been set up to coordinate all donations regarding covid-19, and a National Response Coordinator has been identified. This decision is meant to expedite efficient and effective processes in the management and provision of socio-economic support, while keeping the public informed and updated on such processes.”

Speaking in an interview with Kerr Fatou immediately after the launching, Hamat Bah, Minister of Tourism said that this is a very important initiative by government under the leadership of Adama Barrow.
“This is will greatly help people especially the needy ones during this trying time which coincided with Ramadan. The government want to make sure that all the needy people are assisted as part of fight against covid-19.”
For her part, Fatou Kinteh, Minister of Women’s Affairs, Children and Social Welfare also hailed the importance of the government’s covid-19 food support, adding that this gesture will greatly help needy Gambians especially women.
Dr. Ahmadou Lamin Samateh, Minister of Health also joined other cabinet ministers to welcome the good initiative by government, adding that these items to be given to the needy Gambians will be very important and timely.
“This gesture comes at the very good time as we are still battling with the covid-19 pandemic. This items such as rice, sugar and oil is very important to the human body.”

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