By Lamin Cham
The Programme for Accelerated Community Development (PACD) a project aimed at closing the gap between urban and rural communities was on Friday launched by President Barrow at the Sir Dawda Conference Centre.
The initiative, which is still in its early stages is sponsored by The Gambia government under the Department of Strategic Policy and Delivery (DSPD) Office of the President and executed in collaboration with the UNDP.
According to President Barrow who said the project is very close to his heart, the project will provide potable water, improved road connectivity, energy and food security to large rural communities and households within the very short span of its life.
He added that PACD was created out of genuine concern for Gambian people, who he said have been suffering for far too long.
‘It is flagship programme of my office designed to simply address the social economic challenges faced by the rural communities in The Gambia and to bring about unprecedented development strives,” he said. The president outlined PACD’s mandate as mainly four priority areas: Expanding access to safe drinking water, extending electricity supply to deprived communities, constructing road networks to connect hard to reach communities and to increase food security.
“It is a fast-track development for hard-to-reach communities in the rural areas with the objective to reduce the long-standing disparities between urban and rural Gambia. To achieve this my government allocated D250 million in 2020 national budget for the pilot phase of the project while the UNDP country office provided a supplementary support of one million dollars to ensure the sustainability,” he said.
The president said following this the PACD project was signed on 7th April 2020 to mark the official commencement of its implementation but because of the Covid-19 restrictions, all activities including the official launching were delayed.
”Despite this, a lot of achievement have been made. Some 27 communities benefited from 16 boreholes with complete water systems positively impacting 3,500 households in
WCR, URR LRR CRR and NBR. Under electricity component, 10 communities in Upper Niumi, Lower Niumi and Jokadu from 100 households will be connected to the national grid. As for food security component, 38 communities will get various labour saving devices including 19 tractors, power tillers, combined coos and milling and threshing machine, rice threshers with powered engines as well as flour milling machines which are all ready and available for distribution to benefit some 10, 000 households”.
He thanked the staff of the DSPD and the UN for the support. The UNDP resident representative Aissata De said PACD is a model project now being replicated in the region and praised its character as a national project. Other speaker included DSPD head Jainaba Kah, agriculture minister Amie Fabureh and a member of the beneficiary communities.