President Dawda Jawara of Gambia has been visiting Paris for talks with officials of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development on the present situation in the drought-stricken Sahel region of Africa.
SV President of Gambia Dawda Jawara speaking in English
JAWARA: "When we look at the concrete achievements by the international community to bring about meaningful development in the developing countries and closing the gap between the developed and the developing countries the result is somewhat negative, like instead of stabilising or closing the gap if anything the gap is widening. And I really see in the special relationship between the (indistinct) and the club a new approach. It might be effective in bringing about meaningful development in the developing areas. In the case of the Sahel when we faced the emergency situation -- there is a drought, there are food shortages -- the international community reacts positively and helps with emergency food aid. But in spite of the difficulties that we face in the Sahel generally the governments and people of the Sahel are not despondent, there's a lot of spirit and they want to get away from these periodic emergency operations into a situation where the region can develop sufficient food, irrespective of weather conditions and be able to feed themselves and avoid hunger and starvation, even when droughts occur and I think this is a very useful position to take."
The Sahel covers 3,000 miles (4,828 kilometres) across Africa south of the Sahara desert. It comprises eight countries: Chad, Gambia, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Senegal, Upper Volta and the Cape Verde Islands with a population of about 27 million people. Severe drought in 1972-1973 caused many people and livestock to lose their lives. At its best underdeveloped, the drought brought the region to the brink of total disaster. The Sahel countries formed the "Interstate Committee for Drought Control in the Sahel" (CILSS) in 1973.
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Background: President Dawda Jawara of Gambia has been visiting Paris for talks with officials of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development on the present situation in the drought-stricken Sahel region of Africa. At a news conference Mr. Jawara explained that the Sahel needed long-term development rather than periodic aid to save its people from starvation.