Banjul, June 6th, 2023 – Today, the World Bank announced the release of a comprehensive review of human capital outcomes in The Gambia and necessary actions to build, utilize, and protect human capital in the country. The review, conducted by a team of experts, sheds light on the crucial role of human capital in accelerating long-term economic growth and social advancement.
Human capital – the knowledge, skills, health, and nutrition accumulated by people throughout their lives – is a significant determinant of a nation's prosperity. Unfortunately, the COVID-19 pandemic has led to a decline in human capital with children and young people being the most affected. The Gambia, with its high population growth and limited access to basic infrastructure, has faced challenges in reducing poverty. The pandemic has further exacerbated poverty rates and high inflation, driven by food prices, threatens households' ability to invest in and protect human capital.
"Human capital is the cornerstone of The Gambia’s development. This review provides valuable insights into the challenges the country faces, and the actions needed to build, utilize, and protect its human capital. It is a call to action for collaboration across sectors and the whole of government," said Feyi Boroffice, World Bank Resident Representative.
The Gambia's Human Capital Index (HCI) for 2020 stood at 42.4 %, indicating that a child born that year will only be 42.4 % as productive as they could be if they had full access to health and education. However, it is worth noting that The Gambia's HCI is higher than the sub-Saharan African average and that of neighboring countries.
The review highlights that women in The Gambia have higher HCI scores than men across all components, showcasing their achievements in adult survival rates, health, and school outcomes. The HCI for both men and women had been showing improvement before the pandemic struck.
The review identifies four key challenges for human capital development: financing, a lack of coordination and inefficiencies in administration, quality, and accessibility. It emphasizes the need for a coordinated multisectoral approach to enhance human capital and offers priority actions across the life cycle.
Anne Hilger, World Bank Economist of the review adds, "Investing in the early years of children's lives, improving the quality of social services, creating equal opportunities for women, and democratizing data are essential steps toward unlocking The Gambia's human capital potential. By doing so, we can pave the way for economic growth, social prosperity, and a better future for our youth."
The review underscores the importance of investments in education, healthcare, social protection, and entrepreneurship. It highlights the need to improve teacher quality, expand social safety nets, promote TVET training, create a favorable business environment, and protect human capital in the face of shocks such as the COVID-19 pandemic and climate change.
The findings of this review provide a roadmap for policymakers, stakeholders, and development partners to work together to build a strong and resilient human capital foundation in The Gambia.