By Keita Isatou
The National Development Plan 2018-2021 is the Gambia government’s development blue print that aims to deliver good governance, accountability and economic development. Delivering these as well as a revitalized and transformed economy that prioritizes education, health, agriculture and trade amongst others for the well-being of all Gambians; is the primary motivation behind the new governments three-year national development plan.
Working with development partners, supporting the new Gambia’s democratic transition, the proposal seeks to provide greater clarity and focus for government action, citizen engagement and inspire collective efforts to assist the new dispensation.
However, despite the new democratic dispensation, the country is faced with grim economic challenges, which have ignited major moves to stabilize the economy. This undertaking also propelled a massive European donor conference for the Gambia earlier in May 2018 in Brussels.
Agriculture is a leading sector in the Gambia’s economy and employs most of the country’s poor. The sector’s poor performance has resulted in deepening rural poverty and stalled GDP growth, which is barely able to keep up with population growth. The goal for agriculture under the national development plan is to have a modern, sustainable and market-oriented agriculture sector, meant for increased food and nutrition security, income and employment generation as well as poverty reduction and economic transformation.
The national development plan is said to be a well-documented development blue print that has catered for all the development needs of the country, but how relevant is this in the Gambia’s development aspirations. The Gambia has made modest advances in realizing the united nations millennium development goals in education, health, nutrition, water, sanitation and hygiene. However, significant challenges remain to become a major target for the sustainable development goals.
Under the Gambia’s new NDP, government has prioritized further investments to improve on those challenges while making basic social services accessible and affordable to all by 2021. If its indicators are anything to go by, Gambia’s GDP is expected to grow from 5.6 % in 2017 to 6.6% in 2018.