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Country Reports

Gambia Country Report

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Risk Level

Low
Moderate
Elevated
High
Very High
Severe
Extreme

Overview

Executive Summary

President Adama Barrow is likely to remain strongly opposed by his former United Democratic Party (UDP), which in November 2019 expelled eight of its MPs for supporting Barrow's decision to renege on an informal pre-election agreement to stand down after three years. The UDP is still the largest party in the National Assembly, while Barrow has had to organise two informal youth support groups and been criticised for offering key advisory roles to former Yahya Jammeh-era ministers.Gambia is continuing, with some success, to source substantial foreign investment after years of stagnation under the dictatorial and kleptocratic rule of Yahya Jammeh. The EU signed a EUR75-million support package in February 2019, with a promise of a further EUR150 million to come, aimed at enabling the government to stabilise its budgetary position, and pay salaries and bills. China is likely to continue being heavily courted, though, as the most likely source of funding for major infrastructure, tourism, and agriculture projects.Attempts to capitalise on potentially lucrative offshore oil blocks situated in an area where major discoveries have been made in Senegalese waters are likely to mean Gambia being forced into a financial settlement over rights confiscated from original holder African Petroleum in order to avoid lengthy arbitration procedures.Security services full of senior level appointees from the Jammeh era still need careful restructuring to reduce the risk of coup plots. However, the largely Senegal-supplied ECOMIG peacekeeping force is likely to preserve stability and in August 2019 had its mandate renewed until March 2020.Improved political stability, a recovering tourism sector, the return of bilateral investment partners offering financial support, and a better agricultural season have led IHS Markit to increase Gambia's GDP growth forecasts to 5.2% for 2019 and 4.8% in 2020.
Last update: December 5, 2019

Operational Outlook

Strike action in Gambia remains rare, with little sign that unions have stepped up activity after the repression of the Yahya Jammeh dictatorship, when any form of organised protest was usually met with brutal repression. The private sector is relatively small, in any case, and most labour unrest is likely to continue to be characterised by short-lived stoppages carried out by public-sector professionals such as doctors, lecturers, and teachers. Corruption levels have fallen significantly from the kleptocratic Jammeh era, although influence peddling and demands for facilitation payments from senior office holders are starting to reappear. At lower levels, though, there is little evidence of an ingrained culture of graft.

Last update: September 12, 2019

Terrorism

Elevated

The ECOMIG peacekeeping force in Gambia had its mandate extended in August 2019 to March 2020 by the Economic Community of West African States. Concerns remain over the admittedly waning possibility of hostile elements of the Gambian security forces conspiring with exiled high-ranking former officials. President Barrow had asked in January 2018 for the ECOMIG contingent to be doubled to 1,000 after previously being phased down. Only in September 2018 did Gambian soldiers take over responsibility for guarding the president when a group of 200 returned from training in Senegal. The risk of kidnap, sporadic armed attacks, and robbery by Casamance rebels along southern highways is diminishing further.

Last update: September 13, 2019

Crime

Crime levels in Gambia have been relatively low historically, with the most common problems remaining petty theft and minor assaults in crowded places and tourist-frequented areas, including beaches. The security forces have maintained a firm control on the civilian population in a country where weapons do not circulate freely, although a shop owner was shot dead by robbers on New Year's Eve 2017. Gambia is increasingly becoming a transit country for money laundering and trafficking in arms, drugs, diamonds, and stolen goods. Gambia is not a signatory to the UN International Convention for the Suppression of the Financing of Terrorism and the UN Convention against Corruption.

Last update: September 12, 2019

War Risks

A court sentenced seven soldiers to nine years in prison on 27 May 2019 for a 2017 plot attempting to overthrow newly installed President Adama Barrow. The chance of another plot getting off the ground has since diminished significantly as the influence of former dictator Yahya Jammeh and his cohorts continues to wane. The likelihood of Jammeh loyalists in the armed forces being driven to take up arms has further reduced with the government's confirmation in August 2019 that it would not prosecute three notorious members of the Jungulars paramilitary group despite intense public pressure. They had confessed at truth and reconciliation hearings to carrying out assassinations under Jammeh's orders.

Last update: September 13, 2019

Social Stability

Elevated

The advent of competitive democracy is bringing more political, civil society, and union demonstrations, which were previously rare due to fear of reprisals. Protests were held in the Senegambia hotel area on 10 May 2019 calling for President Barrow to keep to an informal agreement to resign after three years, with 20 arrests made. Communal violence over caste disputes is becoming more common, particularly upstream the Gambia River. A total of 23 were arrested for fighting in Upper River region on 28 May. Three people were wounded on 23 July when police dispersed 200 people blocking the road in Brikama in protest against the local area council.

Last update: September 12, 2019

Health Risk

Severe

Vaccinations required to enter the country

Proof of vaccination against yellow fever is required if traveling from a country with risk of yellow fever transmission and over nine months of age.

Routine Vaccinations

Hepatitis A: A vaccine is available for anyone over one year of age. The vaccine may not be effective for certain people, e.g. those born before 1945 and who lived as a child in a developing country and/or have a past history of jaundice (icterus). These people can instead get a shot of immune globulin (IG) to boost their immunity against the disease.

Hepatitis B: A vaccine is available for children at least two months old.

Diphtheria-Tetanus-Polio: A booster shot should be administered if necessary (once every ten years).

Other Vaccinations

Typhoid Fever: If your travels take you to regions with poor sanitary conditions (for children two years old and up).

Rabies: For prolonged stays in an isolated region (for children from when they can walk).

Meningococcal Meningitis: For prolonged stays, or in case your travels will put you in close contact with a local population affected by an epidemic of the disease (for children over the age of two years).

Malaria: Recommended preventive medication - mefloquine (sometimes marketed as Lariam) or doxycycline (sometimes marketed as Vibramycin).

For Children: All standard childhood immunizations should be up-to-date. In the case of a long stay, the BCG vaccine is recommended for children over one month and the MMR (measles-mumps-rubella) vaccine for children over nine months.

Last update: April 5, 2019

Practical Information

Climate

Gambia's climate is subtropical and the country experiences two seasons. During the dry season (October to June), the Harmattan, a dry and dusty trade wind from the Sahara, often blows across the country between December to February. The rainy season lasts from July until November and often brings with it torrential rains and tornados. Temperatures are constant and high throughout the year and conditions are often sunny.

Useful Numbers

Country Code: +220
Ambulance: 16
Police: 17
Fire Dept.: 18

Electricity

Voltage: 230 V ~ 50 Hz

Outlets:

Last update: April 5, 2019