The Gambia is a small State in West Africa. The population of the Gambia is estimated to be 1.6 million, and the density per square kilometer is 128, one of the highest in Africa. Three quarters of the population is rural. Women constitute 51 per cent of the population. Currently, the crude birth rate is 46.2 per thousand though dropping is still high. Life expectancy at birth is low at 55 years overall, and 54 years and 57 years for males and females respectively.
The Gambia is among the poorest countries in the World, ranked 155th out of 177, in UNDP’s Human Development Index for 2004. As is the case in many developing countries, water is a precious and critical resource for the Gambian people. Without access to adequate wells, women spend an inordinate time searching for and transporting water in order to feed families and grow crops.
Gardens for the Gambia focuses on digging wells at schools. The wells provide three critical things for Gambian school children: 1) Knowledge of agriculture; 2) A meal – sometimes their only meal of the day - for the poorest children; and 3) profits from surplus produce sold at market enable the school to buy supplies and equipment. Each well serves 100 to 300 people.
Many individuals wonder why such a long period of time is required in The Gambia and why matters cannot be attended to more efficiently or with much less time. Unfortunately, much of West Africa, including The Gambia, is part of the developing world. As a result, there is a lack of infrastructure and communication is often difficult. However, we have opted to make this project an ongoing part of our “African Program” and are joining with a Rotary Club in The Gambia to apply for a Matching Grant. San Bernardino Sunset has joined us as a MG partner.