By Zainab Sesay
The Gambian alumni Centre of Excellence in Reproductive Health Innovation (CERHI), last week closed a two-day workshop for needs assessment on the possible establishment of a youth focused development NGO in The Gambia.
They were in partnership with the ACE Secretariat, Ministry of Higher Education, Research, Science & Technology (MOHERST) with support from Ford Foundation and the University of Benin.
The workshop reviewed the general and social developmental challenges in The Gambia, and identified strategic position of youth in overcoming them.
But for this to be realised, participants agree there is a need for genuine collaborations and partnerships with resolved commitment in order to improve the development indicators including reproductive health indices in The Gambia and beyond.
Speaking at the event in Bijilo, the head of CERHI-Benin, Prof. Friday Okonofua, said the mission of the organisation is to build capacity within West Africa’s tertiary educational system for implementing high quality training and applied research for reproductive health professions to tackle policies and programs for reducing the region’s high burden of fertility, unsafe abortion, maternal mortality and HIV/AIDS.
“The vision of this organisation is to be a leading institution providing innovative and transformational changes on matters relating to population and development and also, to improve the living standards of citizen in Africa,” the Professor said in a lengthy presentation.
He stated that the objective of the workshop is to generate ideas for developing a strategic plan for sustaining youth participation in the social development of The Gambia.
Participants were drawn from public and private sectors across the country.
Amadou Barrow, a university lecturer, talked about the population and highlighted some development needs of The Gambia.
The executive director of the National Youth Council, Lamin Daboe, said the government is determined to not leave any youth behind, saying it recognises that youth are engines of growth and an essential pillars for any development that The Gambia aims to achieve.
CERHI is a World Bank-supported project at the University of Benin whose mission is to implement high quality training and applied research for professionals needed to build a new cohort of human resource to tackle the population and reproductive health challenges in the African region.