The critical environmental and sustainability issues of The Gambia:
The Gambia is one of Africa’s poorest countries.The United Nations Development Programme’s 2013 Human Development Index ranked the country 165th out of 187 countries. In 2014, calculations revealed that more than 60 percent of the overall population lives in poverty, while a little under half of the population live in poverty stricken conditions. Poverty in The Gambia is largely a rural phenomenon, with 74 percent of the rural population living below the poverty line.
Education is compulsory in The Gambia between the ages of 7 and 15. However, the education system does not reach everybody. According to UNESCO, as of 2018, 72,096 children in The Gambia are not attending school. In addition, adult literacy rates are low. Only 55.5 percent of men and 47.6 percent of women were found to be literate in 2015.
- Water and Sanitation
The amount of reliable drinking water sources has risen 15 percent from 1992 to 2010 and continues to increase. In 2010, 15 percent of rural and eight percent of urban Gambians did not have access to sanitary drinking water. Nearly all of The Gambia’s potable water must be drilled from underground.
Access to an improved source of drinking water is a challenge, with disparities among the regions. The Gambia’s 2010 Multiple Indicator Cluster Survey (MICS) report showed that only 32 percent of households have improved drinking water source on their premises. The use of unprotected wells for drinking water are more common in the predominantly rural areas (21.8%) and are highest in the Janjanbureh Local Government Area (LGA), situated in the Central River Region, with about 30 per cent. In terms of sanitation, 40 per cent do not have access to sanitation and 4 percent of the rural population practice open defecation (OD). The 2010 MICS shows that the majority of the OD population is living in the Kuntaur (13%) and the Janjanbureh (8%) LGAs.
- Maternal Health
The maternal mortality in The Gambia remains one of the highest in the world, with 706 maternal deaths per 100,000 live births.The main causes of maternal deaths are severe bleeding, infections, high blood pressure and delivery complications. Only 57.2% deliveries take place in the presence of a skilled health professional.
The Gambia is one of the smallest and poorest countries in Africa. Healthcare is delivered by only 5 hospitals, and most citizens receive their healthcare from rural health clinics throughout the country. Consequently, water contamination is the cause of 20 percent of deaths under the age of five, which is detrimental to The Gambia’s population. The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that around 1.6 million people die every year from pneumococcal infections, 800,000 of which are children. As for children under the age of 5, diarrhoeal diseases were a major contributor to childhood deaths.