CRS in The Gambia
Almost completely geographically surrounded by Senegal, The Gambia is Africa’s smallest mainland country and home to over 1.9 million people. Although the country has experienced political stability since independence in 1965, stability has not translated into prosperity. About one-third of the population lives below the international poverty line of $1.25 a day. Only one-sixth of land is arable and poor soil quality has lead to the predominance of peanuts as one of the few cash crops. Many Gambians face difficulties related to poverty, such as food insecurity, high prevalence of communicable diseases, high maternal and infant mortality rates, high rates of unemployment, and illiteracy.
CRS has had a long presence in The Gambia, with current programming focused on health, including HIV and AIDS, malaria, emergency response and recovery and agriculture.
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CRS' History in The Gambia
Catholic Relief Services began working in The Gambia in 1964 at the invitation of the Catholic Bishop of Banjul. Since then, CRS has provided emergency relief to vulnerable communities, strengthened food security, tackled malnutrition, enhanced healthcare services and provided education opportunities for children and their families.
In 2002, CRS became the first NGO in the country to initiate a comprehensive home-based care and support program for people living with HIV. The program was a success and was subsequently adopted by the National AIDS Secretariat and brought to scale at the national level. CRS continues to work towards the goal of achieving zero new HIV infections, zero AIDS-related deaths and zero stigma and discrimination in The Gambia with support from The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria.
CRS is also contributing to the fight against malaria in The Gambia, which is endemic in the country. From 2013 to 2015, CRS was responsible for the distribution and administration of long-lasting insecticide treated bed nets (LLINs) and Behavior Change Communication (BCC) components. To date, CRS has distributed a total of 1.5 million LLINs to children under five, pregnant women and the greater population. In 2014, CRS became the first NGO to secure funding to implement the Seasonal Malaria Chemoprevention (SMC) project in two out of five administrative regions of the country. From August 2015 to November 2015 a total of 82,524 children between the ages of 3 to 59 months were provided two life-saving malaria preventative drugs, sulphadoxine-pyrimethamine plus amodiaquine (SP+AQ). Drugs continue to be delivered door-to-door, with teams consisting of Village Health Workers and fully trained community volunteers administering the SMC drugs to children.
CRS implements emergency response and recovery programming in The Gambia when disasters strike. Flooding and violent windstorms have affected over 10,000 people across all five administrative regions of The Gambia. Women and children are the most vulnerable and are susceptible to major risks including food insecurity, malnutrition, disease outbreak and lack of adequate shelter. CRS responds by providing food and materials for housing repairs, as well as cash transfers so that affected people have the autonomy to choose the essential necessities they need.