INTRODUCTION The United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) is giving substantial aid to the tiny African state of Gambia, to try and lower the very high death rate among the country's children.
INTRODUCTION The United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) is giving substantial aid to the tiny African state of Gambia, to try and lower the very high death rate among the country's children. Contaminated water which often gets into the traditionally un-lined village wells is one of the major causes of infant mortality.
SYNOPSIS: The UNICEF team was taken to the village of Juffure. About 200 people live there in thatched, mud-brick houses on the north bank of the Gambia. Although Juffure is less than a mile from the river, all the water for its drinking, cooking and washing comes from an extremely old well in the centre of the village.
Forty percent of the children in the village probably won't live to see their fifth birthday. It's been accepted as a part of life in the villages, but UNICEF is convinced the new programme will change that.
The project will supply 100 rural communities with their own concrete-lined wells. They should prevent contamination from cave-ins or silt and vastly improve the development of agriculture and livestock heard which are the basis of the national economy.
Agricultural expansion is a major aim of the Gambian government. For years the country has been almost solely dependent on groundnuts for virtually all of its export earnings. The dangers of a monocrop economy are recognised and the country is diversifying its agriculture. particularly in food crops for home consumption.
A five-year economic plan was put into action in 1975. It's aimed at raising the standard of living and annual income per head for the country's 495,000 people. Ninety percent of the population live in rural areas, but the monocrop economy has forced an exodus to the populated centres. Therefore, the plan calls for an extension of cultivable land through increasing irrigation. The fishing industry, which, with cotton, ranks second among Gambia's exports, is promised more sophisticated equipment.
During its visit to Juffure, the UNICEF team was treated to an unexpected display of Gambian song and dance. They visited the house of the local singer and were shown the Kora, a multi-stringed musical instrument with a gourd-like body.