By Olimatou Coker
Tostan Gambia, an international NGO based and operating in URR since 2007, has recently presented COVID-19 community resilience support materials, kits, booklets and brochures to the Technical Advisory Committee, Regional Health Management Directorate through the Governor of URR, Madam Fanta BS Manneh at a ceremony held at the Governor’s Bantaba in Basse.
The presented items included bleach, dettol soap and liquid, face masks, hand sanitizers and also booklets on general information on COVID-19 and brochures on the Islamic perspective on pandemics.
Speaking at the presentation, the National Coordinator of Tostan Gambia, Edrisa Keita said the presentation is in line with Tostan 3 months COVID-19 contingency plan to support the partner communities in URR, but also the regional partners such as TAC and Regional Health Management team.
He said Tostan empowers communities in the areas of human rights, education, health and hygiene, environment and economic development through the use of national languages.
According to Keita, in Tostan programme modules, there is health and hygiene component that is in line with health prevention that greatly helps communities to prevent themselves from communicable diseases such as COVID 19. “So this is exactly what Tostan is reinforcing during the period of COVID-19,” he said.
He further stressed the importance of partnership and collaboration during these trying times for sectors and most importantly communities to take all preventive measures as laid down by WHO and health authorities.
He explained that the development of booklets and brochures came because Tostan is good at that aspect in having relevant and accurate information in the national languages of partner communities so that, they can read and fully understand the information and messages on key issues that affect their lives and livelihood.
“This is the reason Tostan International Office in Dakar through Madam Molly Melching, the Founder and creative director worked very hard with National Coordinators, programme team in Dakar office, health authorities, governor’s office, and religious scholars and developed these booklets and brochures in the national languages of partner communities and countries such as The Gambia, Senegal, Guinea Bissau, Guinea Conakry and Mali”.
He stated that these booklets and brochures are written in English, French, Creole, Mandinka, Fula, Wolof, Bambara, and other national languages in these various countries.
He the detergents, kits and books are also distributed in Tostan partner communities in URR and that, the presentation was to deliver the support to the regional partners. He also stated that, these reading materials are shared on line and email with many government institutions and sectors in The Gambia through Tostan CEO based in Dakar office, Senegal. He thanked the office of the Governor, Regional Health Team, religious leaders, staff for their hard work in sensitising communities to prevent themselves from COVID 19 and communities in putting into practice what they are learning from partners.
He urged all to make the best use of the books and brochures and detergents.
The Governor of URR, Madam Fanta B.S. Manneh thanked Tostan for this great initiative in providing booklets and brochures in the national languages of people and communities here in the Gambia to make reading and understanding easy for them.
Madam Manneh, also commended Tostan for the fact that, it is the only NGO so far that has produced such booklets and brochures in the languages spoken by the communities to have a better understanding of all issues about COVID-19 and its preventive methods as well as resilience support materials and kits.
She urged community members, TAC and Regional Health Team to make the best use of the materials and books. She finally assured Tostan of the support of her office and the Gambia Government as NGOs are complementing the development efforts of the Government.
Other speakers included Mr. Alhagie Jawara, CDO and secretary to TAC, Mr. Sainey Kanuteh, Ward Councilor for Basse and Mr. Kewo, Principal Public Health Officer from the Regional Health Management Directorate, URR.