By Olimatou Coker
The National Council for Civil Education (NCCE) in partnership with United Nations Population Fund Agency (UNFPA) on Tuesday commenced training for 320 Village Development Committees (VDCs) and Ward Development Committees (WDCs) in 4 regions of the country.
Beneficiary regions are Lower River, North Bank, Central River and Upper River regions on the local government Act and the role of women and youths in the decentralization process and Covid-19 prevention.
The theme for the trainings is strengthening decentralized structures for improved local government administration. Forty VDCs and WDCs will be trained in each region.
Yusupha Bojang, programme manager, NCCE, said the training is geared towards strengthening VDCs and WDCs decentralization structures in regions.
He said there are gaps in terms of capacities of some grassroots structures, adding that it is critical to strengthen them because they are the foundation.
Bojang noted that some of them find it difficult to implement their functions or fulfill their mandate which sometimes result to problems between them and village heads, adding that the misunderstandings are mainly as a result of them not knowing where their mandate and responsibilities stop.
“Both have to work together to improve the wellbeing of their communities,” he stated.
He said the training would give them the necessary tools to be able to effectively do their work in bringing harmony in the communities.
The training, he went on, is to also remind them about the roles and responsibilities of youth and women in decentralize structures.
He said the target is inclusive participation as voices of women and youth should count in decision making processes to ensure there is peace at grassroots, ward and even regional levels.
According to him, some of them have access to the local government act but reading to understand is another issue as some of them are elderly and not fortunate to be literate with the act written in English.
He concluded by calling on participants to disseminate the knowledge gained during the training as well as be prepared to put into practice what they learned.
Bakary Juwara, UNFPA national programme associate, said their mandate is to deliver a world where every pregnancy is wanted, every child birth is safe and every young person realized their potential.
He noted that this was why they found it important to include VDCs and WDCs in the implementations of decentralized programs because they believe most vulnerable women are found within local communities.
He noted that VDCs are meant to bring development to communities and as such it is important they are trained to know their mandate, adding that youth and women inclusion in VDCs is critical to sustainable development.
Seedy Bah, Councilor Kwinella Ward described the training as timely as some VDCs and WDCs are not effectively functioning with some communities even without VDCs.
He highlighted that if village heads, VDCs and WDCs know their rights, responsibilities and mandates the development of their communities will be easy.
During the group-work, a civic educator highlighted the conflict between the alkalolu and the members of the Village Development Committee (VDC) that participants should look into such matters and work on them.
A native of Kwinella, Momodou Manneh accused some alkalolu who would think that the communities belong to them. He added that these civic education trainings came on time – as most of their alkalolu need so much sensitization on this subject matter.
According to Manneh, some of their alkalolu are committed and capable, but said others want to personalise their communities.