The United States government through its Embassy in Banjul has supported community self-help projects in The Gambia with a total funding of D2.6M.
The funding agreement for the 14 beneficiary groups was signed Thursday at a ceremony held at the American Corner along Kairaba Avenue.
Funded under the Ambassador’s Special Self-Help (SSH) project and the Julia Taft Refugee Fund, the money is meant to support self-help projects in local communities and to support low-cost projects that assist refugee returnees, by responding to critical gaps in assistance not addressed through larger, multilateral refugee programmes.
The beneficiaries are; Munyagen Village Development Committee (D130, 000); Jalola Hamend Kafo of Jali Kunda Village (D170, 000); Kompin Kawral of Ceesay Kunda Village (D150, 000); Changai Lower Basic School and VDC (D89, 400); Alkamba Association of Kudang (D225, 500); Keneba Women Kawral Kafo in Tumana District (D110, 000); Ward Development Committee of Sabi Ward (D142, 060); Nematoulie Kafo of Sankuya (D130, 725); Sare Sarjo Village (D110, 000); Bunjulinding Ward Development Committee/ Sinchu Alagie (D164, 780); Niji Saaba Women Kafo (D67, 535); Bulanjorr VDC (D110, 000); Ding Ding Bantaba Federation (D500, 000); and The Gambia Food and Nutrition Association (D500, 000).
Speaking at the ceremony, Charge’s’ D’ affaires Richard T. Yoneoka described the signing of the projects as a demonstration of the Embassy’s commitment to working with The Gambia on poverty alleviation, community development, and sustainable livelihood.
“As we travelled up country during the end of the Ramadan to celebrate with the governors, they told us how big of an impact these projects have on local communities. The US Embassy typically contributes around $40, 000 each year to this programme. In recent years, the funds have been used to empower people who are physically challenged in Brikama with livelihood training, provide a solar energy system for water and electricity supply to the community of Demba Kunda Kuta in the URR, and build a community health clinic that serves thousands of people a year in Firadawsy in CRR to name a few,” he told the gathering.
He added that the milling machines, clinics, wells and gardens have touched the lives of these communities with women benefitting the most.
The diplomat observed that due to these projects, many women no longer have to spend hours of hard labour just to feed their families, saying they now have more time for other income generating activities, enabling them to provide more food for their families and more education for their children.
“A total amount of $40, 000, or around D1, 600, 000, is allocated to support 12 self-help projects this year. These projects are different from most development programmes because they are truly community-driven. In addition to designing your projects, each of you have to agree to contribute in some manner to the projects, either through land, labour or money. You have a vested stake in the work that you will carry out, and you are your own boss. If the projects succeed (and I know they will), it is because of the hard work and dedication that you will put into it,” Charge’s’ D’affaires Yoneoka told the beneficiaries.
He added, “We are also here today to award two grants to our Julia Taft Refugee Fund, which amount to $25, 000, or One million dalasi, to support the large refugee populations in key areas of Foni in the West Coast Region.”
The projects funded by Julia Taft, he said, will support both individuals and families fleeing the conflict in Casamance and hosted by Gambian families. He said latest evaluation of refugee population by the Refugee Commission of The Gambia has shown the registration of 7, 000 refugees in 70 communities along the Senegambia border.
“Estimates put the total population in the country at approximately 9, 000, and these are people who survive primarily on subsistence farming,” he indicated.
He concluded by wishing them all the best in the implementation of their projects and assured them of the US embassy’s continued support.
On the part of the beneficiaries, Wonto Saidy of Nematoulie Kafo of Jarra Sankuya, Mariama Bah-Saine of Banjulinding Ward Development Committee, and Musa A Nyassy of Ding Ding Bantaba Federation all thanked the US government through its embassy for the support. They assured the judicious use of the funds and for the purpose they are meant. They also used the ceremony to appeal for more support from the US government in addressing some of their needs.
Also present at the ceremony were, Stephen C. Harris, Political and Economic officer at the US embassy and Yusupha J. Gomez, Programmes coordinator at the Embassy.