Mr Malcolm Duthie, the new representative of the United Nations World Food Programme to The Gambia, on Monday presented his letter of credence to the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, Mr Bala Garba Jahumpa.
Mr Duthie who is accompanied by his wife Maureen, indicated that he was very pleased to serve as WFP’s representative in The Gambia. He cited WFP’s long history of assisting the Gambian people, especially the less privilege and was pleased to be able to continue this support.
“WFP has been in partnership with the government in assisting the poor and especially the hungry for more than 35 years. As the main arm of the UN set up to deal with hunger, WFP has been working side by side with the Gambians to avert serious hunger problems.
Over the period WFP has provided up to $136 million in food assistance ranging from drought and flood responses, support to refugees (as is currently the case with the Casamance refugees), as well as continued support for an impressive nation-wide primary school feeding programme managed by the Department of State for Education” he said.
The WFP rep added that his institution has also been assisting in identifying where the people are more vulnerable, especially with regard to their ability to secure enough food for their families, and is helping build up strategies to minimize these.
As a representative of the world’s largest humanitarian food aid organization, Mr Duthie is hopeful that he can continue to bring the experiences of this global reach with WFP working in 83 countries of the world and to further assist the Gambian people in ensuring that hunger and fear of hunger in the future will not be a problem that will hamper their development.
He said that no one can do anything if they are hungry, and people will not develop if they are worried about where their next meal will come from.” It is only when people have enough food that they can even thinking about doing anything else’.
Mr Duthie, an Australian national, bags a degree in Economics and Masters in Social Planning and Development. He has served in a wide range of positions and had undertaken assignments in many African countries.
Mr Duthie arrived from Rome, Italy where he was working at WFP headquarters on a global assessment of WFP’s decentralization approach. Prior to that he was the WFP representative in Laos where unpon his end of duty was decorated by the government with their highest honor ever awarded to a foreigner, called the Cross of Friendship, provided in recognition and appreciation for his work for the poor in that county.
He also served in Vietnam, Bangladesh, India, Nepal, Bhutan, Cambodia and Indonesia. and Rome where he covered Ethiopia, Eritrea, and also in most of Southern Africa and the Great Lakes countries of Central Africa.
He said even though The Gambia is a small country, with smaller scale programmes by WFP global standards, “it was seen as one where we had great potential to move beyond hunger being a problem in its development”. He hoped that he and his fellow WFP staff along with WFP’s global expertise and with the rest of the UN capacities, and working with the people and government of The Gambia, “we will be able to realize that.”