On average, 12.5 tonnes of soil are lost per hectare per year in The Gambia. In addition, rural Gambians face: endemic poverty, inefficient and unproductive agricultural practices resulting in poor yields and regular loss of crops as a result of irregular rainfall, and weak and undeveloped value chains for agricultural commodities. This leads to limited access to markets and low prices paid for produce with inadequate storage and preservation facilities. The 61% of the rural population that falls below the poverty line, with an income of less than 1.50 USD per day, is disproportionately affected by environmental degradation. The median-income in agriculture is the lowest in the economy.
Since land-based sectors fail to offer viable livelihood options to the increasing youth populations in the rural areas on exodus to urban areas and migration to other countries is becoming the only viable option. Pushed by the need to help their families, many young Gambians choose to make the long and dangerous journey to Europe. Countless migrants disappear into immigration detention centers or vanish in the sands of the Sahara. Those who are able to complete the journey are often dismissed as economic migrants and sent back home.
To reintegrate the returned migrants and give an alternative to migration to the other youth that are struggling to have an income, The Gambia is investing in a 3S project that will create 25,000 land-based jobs for rural youth and returning migrants. Creating new employment opportunities will help providing young people with sustainable incomes. In the next five years, an action plan will prioritize investments in youth kafos (traditional village groups) that will rehabilitate the land and revitalize local vegetable gardens. To create 5,000 new jobs a year, traditional authorities and local governments will offer young people secure access to the land and will facilitate land registration. The 3S Initiative will help mobilize the investments needed to then develop opportunities in the land-based economic sectors particularly agro-food, forestry and eco-tourism.