By Momodou Jarju
Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) country representative in the Gambia Shibu Rampedi, said it has been found that hunger and obesity often co-exist in the country; that the prevalence of obesity nationally as reported by World Health Organization (WHO) in 2016 was 9.1% and of people who are overweight 28.5%; that the prevalence of obesity was higher in females compared to males, according to these reports.
Rampedi who was speaking during the commemoration of World Food Day and International Day of Rural Women in Brikama, said the challenge to ensure that everybody gets a healthy diet is worldwide; that this includes the Gambia where hunger and obesity often co-exist.
She said no regime is exempted from the pandemic of obesity, noting that the lack of a healthy diet has an impact on people’s health and is linked to some deaths around the world.
“National statistics indicate that malnutrition in all its forms, remains unacceptably high and that is a major obstacle for the achievement of this zero hunger target. To help achieve the Sustainable Development Goal 2 (SDG 2) which is Zero Hunger, it is important that we work together,” she said.
The commemoration which was held at the Governor’s office in Brikama had as its theme: “Our Actions Are Our Future. Healthy Diets For A #Zero Hunger World.”
Rampedi said more than 820 million people do not have enough to eat worldwide and at the same time, obesity continues to increase in all regions around the world particularly among school children and adults. She said zero hunger is not only about addressing hunger but about nourishing people while nurturing their planet; that it is important that we intensify food production noting that the possible impact of climate change is causing the rapid loss of the planet’s biodiversity.
“Today only nine plant species account for 66% of total crop production even though throughout history more than 6,000 species have been cultivated for food in the world. A diverse variety of crops is essential to provide healthy diet and safeguard our environment. We are now spending less time preparing meals at home because of conveniency in the provision of food by supermarkets and fast food outlets that is available in streets,” she said; that we should make more effort to address the healthy diet issue and to avoid being less active on a day to day basis.
Also speaking at the event was Bakary Sanyang, the Governor of the West Coast Region. He called for the increment of agricultural food production and the stimulation of national, bilateral and transnational initiatives to end hunger globally.
Governor Sanyang said fostering economic and technical cooperation and coordination among developing countries is needed; that they should enhance the participation of rural people particularly women and the underprivileged starters in decision making and events that has impact on their living conditions.
He further said that they are aware that despite the significance of agriculture as a major factor in the economics of developing countries, the sector often lacks investment.
“And in particular, we have noticed that foreign aid to agriculture has a drastic decline in the last twenty years. And this deteriorating situation is a serious cause for concern as the flow of food supply is also at its minimum level during these twenty years, while the number of hungry people is increasing due to the combined repercussions of high food prices, global financial crisis and the increase in adverse weather fluctuations,” he said.