Population and development: Demographic structure: Consequences and implications Cont'd
Tuesday, October 13, 2009
The Gambia economy has experienced alternating periods of buoyancy, stagnation and decline since independence.
The reasons for this are varied and complex, but notable among them are changes in the prices paid for the country's major exports, especially groundnuts, cotton and fish, poor incentives to producers, changes in monetary and fiscal policies, management practices and labour productivity. The agricultural sector, which employs about 68 percent of the labour force, provides seasonal employment for most Gambians and on average contribution about 33 percent of the GDP. About 75% of the agricultural labour force is provided by women. Their role at the macro-economic level is therefore of great importance. Income-generating activities have been improved through various Government intervention projects like CSIP, SDF, and Enhancing Sustainable Livelihoods, in which the majority of the beneficiaries are women.
It is also worth noting that livestock rearing has become an economic activity for women. Despite being hard hit by animal disease, inadequate access to drugs and other production inputs, adverse markets conditions and theft, women have achieved an increase in production (NASS report 2002/2003), placing their ownership of sheep and goats at 52 and 70 percent respectively. The women's share in the labour force continues to rise as they become more and more involved in other small and medium enterprises.
Major set-backs include value adding, market identification, marketing strategies and partnership. The services sector, which includes distributive trade, hotels and restaurant, transport and communication continued to contribute significantly to GDP. Its contribution to GDP rose from 67.9 percent in 1990/91 to 70.6 percent in 1998 and declined to 41% in 2005. The tourism sector has emerged, since the beginning of the nineties, as a potential source of rapid growth for the economy.
The Gambia's mild climate, the long stretches of the sandy beaches, and its close proximity to Europe make it an attractive destination for tourists of Europian origin. In terms of employment and foreign exchange earning, the sector is vital and continues to account for between 10 to 12 per cent of GDP. The Industrial sector in The Gambia, made up of the manufacturing, construction and utilities sub sectors, is rather small and accounted for 9.7 per cent of GDP in 2005.
Family and Household The family is the basic unit of every society. Household sizes in The Gambia vary considerably with location. Rural households have been found to be consistently larger than those in urban settlements. The 2003 Census calculated a national average household size of 8.33 persons. The findings shows that there are considerable regionable disparities, as households in Banjul were the smallest with 4.83.16 persons on average, compared to Basse where the average size of a household was twice as large 14. 16 persons. Large family size tends to lower per capita income for the household and it can lead to, or aggravate, a situation of poverty.
The Gambia's youthful age structure imposes a high dependency burden at the family and societal levels. The high dependency ratio has serious implication for the nation's ability, both at the individual and societal levels, to mobilise adequate resources and savings for investments in the production sectors.
Author: by Mariatou Ngum-saidy & Aji Fatou Faal