On 15 September the Hansard Department at The Gambia National Assembly completed a training programme to improve transparency and communications with citizens delivered by the Parliament of Sierra Leone and made possible by the Westminster Foundation for Democracy (WFD) and the UK branch of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association (CPA UK).
Following the April 2017 elections, the National Assembly began an ambitious programme to upgrade its performance working in partnership with the WFD and CPA UK.
This week’s training benefited the Hansard Department, which is responsible for compiling and publishing parliamentary proceedings including all debates. It was delivered by Mr Musa Foullah, Editor of Debates at the Parliament of Sierra Leone and built on a previous session delivered by the Parliament of the Isle of Man.
Combining support from different parliaments facing similar challenges and using a range of systems is a highly successful method championed by WFD which has achieved excellent results in Sierra Leone, where 100% of parliamentary debates are now captured and where as many as 87% of proceedings where published in between October 2016 and March 2017.
Following the training, the Hansard Department has been set up with digital transcribing equipment and has new found knowledge and support on topics such as editing which will enable them to clear their backlog and focus on delivering timely reports.
Next week, WFD and CPA UK will deliver an induction for all new National Assembly Members to ensure they have the support they need to establish effective democracy that benefits all Gambians.
Commending the National Assembly on completing the training, WFD’s senior programme manager for Africa, Majda El-Bied, said: “The Hansard Department embraces new opportunities to learn from their peers. The experience from Sierra Leone is going beyond borders and was praised by the leadership of the National Assembly of Gambia. I am glad we are using our regional network to support our partners in West Africa. Mr Musa Foullah is now their reference and will be providing support remotely. ”
Attending the last day of training in Banjul, director of Hansard, Ms Isatou Conteh, said: “It has been a very exciting week. Mr Fullah took the time to show us new techniques. I can see change taking place and my department reaching another level as we are moving from old ways of doing things to a more standardised way of applying new procedures through harmonisation. “
Mr Musa Foullah, Editor of Debates at the Parliament of Sierra Leone, said: “This week has been very impressive. During the sessions, the team learned a lot of new procedures. In Hansard production, consistency, accuracy, team work and coordination are the key principles that guide the work of Hansard Department and I can see that the Hansard team in The Gambia is ready to apply the new techniques and I endeavour to mentor them in the next months.”