Drought in West Africa
There has been a widespread drought in west
Africa, affecting Senegal, Mauritania, Burkina Faso, Mali and Chad
as well as The Gambia. Rainfall in The Gambia was well below normal
during the 2011-2012 farming season, resulting in severe crop
failures, with an overall reduction in production of about 70%. In
some villages the harvest failed completely, and even where a
harvest was gathered, there is probably only enough for about 2
months food. Normally the farmers are able to provide food for 4-6
months before the villagers need to purchase from outside. Prices of
locally produced food have soared, and large increases in world food
prices mean that imported food is also very expensive.
The Gambian Government has declared an
emergency, and is mobilizing all available emergency funds to help
those in the worst affected areas. They have called on the
International Community and NGOs for help.
You can read more about it on
this page of the Daily Observer,
and on this
UN Food and Agriculture Organisation page.
There is an in-depth assessment of the situation on this
International Red Cross document
What can you do to help?
Pageant Ethical Gifts
Unlike larger charities, Pageant is not
equipped to deliver large scale food aid, but we can contribute
something by asking you to help us with existing Pageant programmes.
We have a number of appropriate
Gifts, which you can purchase.
Just click on the links below to take you straight to the item on our
list of gifts:
Sack of Rice - £22.50 buys a 50kg sack of
rice, which will feed a large family for a month. Please donate
using our Ethical Gifts programme, and the money will be sent
directly to our agents in the Gambia, who will buy the rice and
deliver it to a deserving family in the areas which we cover. Our
projects, children and families in Bakalarr, Sika, Juffreh, Soma and
Jarreng are all in the worst-affected regions.
Also you can help by ensuring the best
possible outcome from the next harvest, by buying ethical gifts for
use in village gardens, which provide much of the food for village
Watering Can - Just £12 buys a
watering can, essential for the care of young plants.
Garden Tools - Just £12.50 buys a
rake, spade and hoe.
Fertilizer - £25 buys a 50kg bag
of fertilizer which will be shared between 10 gardeners.
If you just want to give the item without the
bother of filling in a form and you don't want one of our cards,
then just send a cheque payable to Pageant for the appropriate
amount, and write the name of the gift on the back. Please send it
to Ian and Pippa Howard. Old School, Worthing Road, Southwater, Horsham, West Sussex. RH13
9DT, UK. Remember to send us a
GiftAid form to allow us to reclaim UK Tax,
and make your donation worth an extra 25%.
We haven't set up a dedicated online appeal,
but you can send us a donation through Virgin Money Giving.
Click this link to take you to our
home page, click Make a donation (top right) and on the
donation page tick the box for I'd like to leave a message
and leave us a message such as Please buy a sack of rice for
hungry people in the Gambia.
It's a bit early in
the year to be thinking about Harvest Festivals, but a few years
ago, a number of schools and churches used their Harvest
Festivals to collect packets of seeds for The Gambia (see
details). Harvest Festivals
mostly happen about mid September, and the best time for sowing
vegetable seeds in The Gambia is after the rains have finished
in October. This coincides with the regular visit of the Pageant
team, who can take out the packets of seeds. So if you are
associated with a church or school, you have plenty of time to
organise something. Meanwhile, if you are visiting a garden
centre, look out for packets of seed being sold off cheap at the
end of the UK sowing season. The most popular seeds to send to
the Gambia are tomatoes (specially the large ones), onions,
carrots, cabbage, lettuce, aubergines, peppers, parsley and
Several large charities are helping with food
aid for the west African drought area in general. However, Gambia is
just one small country in this area, and it is difficult to find
programmes which directly target The Gambia. ActionAid
and the Red Cross have started
to deliver food aid, but Pageant's agents in The Gambia say that so
far it's very limited in quantity, and not getting to everyone in
the community who needs it. Please also bear in mind that larger
charities tend to have higher admin costs than Pageant. Our running
costs are covered by members' subscriptions, so 100% of any donation
goes to The Gambia. We have calculated that a donation to Pageant to
buy rice locally could be up to three times more cost-effective than
a donation to one of the big charities.
...and the animals
horses and donkeys are also going hungry, and this will affect their
ability to do essential work on the farms. The
Gambia Horse and Donkey Trust
has an appeal to help look after these animals through this