Consultancy Report on the Needs Assessment for an
Effective Early Warning System in The Gambia
INTRODUCTION AND GENERAL BACKGROUND
Every year natural disasters cause significant losses of life and property, which constitute a setback to economic and social development by years, if not decades. For almost twenty years, notably 1980 to 2005 weather, water and climate related hazards and conditions accounted globally for 90% of total number of disasters, 72% of two million causalities and 75% of total economic loss (IPCC 2009). In terms of human life, between 1980 and 2005 nearly 7,500 natural disasters worldwide have taken the lives of our two million people with Least Developed Countries (LDC) accounting for 10% of the world’s population, recording 41% of the global loss of life. The risk associated with the potential of increasing severity and frequency of Hydro- Meteorological hazards that are linked to climate variability within a changing climate, as reported in the Fourth Assessment Report (AR4) of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC 2007) appears to be on the rise.
The Gambia is the smallest country in continental Africa, situated along the Gambia River and has frontiers only with Senegal with an 80 kilometer border on the Atlantic Ocean. It has a population of 1.7 million and a Diaspora of around 0.5 million. The 2010 GNI per capita is US$440 and the poverty rate is 55 percent. The Gambian economy has remained remarkably resilient since the onset of the global financial crisis. Real GDP growth is estimated to have risen by 5.6 percent in 2010, down from a high 6.3 percent growth rate in 2009, and is projected to rise by 5.5 percent in 2011. The economy is relatively undiversified and limited by a small internal market. Services account for over half of GDP, reflecting the importance of the re-export trade,
which has been driven by liberal trade policies and an efficient port infrastructure. The country’s advantage in transit trade is being gradually eroded however by investments by neighboring countries in transport infrastructure and the harmonization of trade policies. Tourism, which was once a key driver of the economy, remains the country’s most significant foreign exchange earner. Agriculture accounts for approximately one-third of GDP and over 70 percent of employment. It is dominated by groundnuts, which account for 60 percent of domestically produced exports. The sustainability of the country’s recent economic performance is contingent on the completion of actions aimed at further reducing energy costs; modernizing transport logistics and infrastructure; restoring growth and scaling up innovation in tourism; encouraging private sector-led agricultural export diversification; continuing the revitalization of the groundnut subsector; and promoting greater regional integration.