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City of Banjul
Thursday, March 4, 2021

Unicef, Tostan rally to empower URR communities

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In a bid to promote consultation and get on board views and concerns of communities, Tostan along with its partners over the weekend convened an inter-village and inter-zonal meeting at Mankamang Kunda in Jimara. 

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The meetings, according to officials overseeing the project, “are a key aspect of the Community Empowerment Project implementation where men, women, boys and girls meet to exchange the best practices learnt during the course of classes and its impact on their respective communities”. 

The platform further creates an opportunity for the participating villages to share what they have learned in their literacy classes, while highlighting changing social norms in their respective communities since the project commenced in June this year.

Key among topics covered in the module are the harmful repercussions of traditional practices like female genital mutilation and child and forced marriage on girls’ health, education and general well-being.  Since its inception, the project has reached 145 out of approximately 400 villages in the region.

At  the event attended by local leaders and various communities within URR, Tostan Gambia national coordinator, Ansu Kambai, said the aim of the meeting was to foster learning and share best practices, skills and new knowledge leant by participants in class.

“It is also meant for them to demonstrate their skills and how they are utilising it compared to their fellow participants from other participating villages. During these events communities will also highlight changing socials norms in their communities,” he added.

The governor of URR, Alhaji Omar Sompo-Ceesay, applauded Tostan’s efforts in empowering and changing the lives of people and communities in his region describing them as “true partners”.

“I must thank President Jammeh for allowing an NGO like Tostan to help communities to learn new skills. We all have seen the developments Tostan is bringing in URR in areas of health, peace building and democracy. This is a clear testimony that Tostan is delivering on its objectives of enlightening the communities. With the intervention of Tostan in URR if you go to our health clinics, there is a lot improvement because people are adhering to Tostan’s recommendations and advices on hygine. URR today and URR yesterday are quite different,” he maintained, while thanking Unicef for supporting the efforts of Tostan.

The National Assembly member of Jimara, Hon Habiboulie Jawo declared that the intervention of Tostan in his constituency has created understanding and awareness among various communities on broad issues affecting them.

Tostan, he said, is complementing the efforts of the government in empowering communities to be aware of issues affecting them in their lives, as he urged them (communities) to share the knowledge with those who are unfortunate to be part of the project.

Deputy director at the Department of Information Services, Ebrima Njie, whose institution is collaborating with Unicef through media support said the success of the project must be positively projected. He further enunciated: “Once the media portrays the positive side of these communities, it will encourage others to also follow the footstep of the participating communities.” 

Other speakers at the event included Foday Yusupha Jawara chief of Jimara, Pa Ceesay chief executive officer of Basse Area Council, Lamin Ceesay community health nurse Bakadaji Health Centre, the women’s councilor and police operation commander in URR who spoke at length on the importance of the project in the region.

The day-long event was characterised by cultural performances, drama skits, testimonies, positive community relations, presentation on human rights and responsibilities, early and forced marriages, among others.

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