The signing ceremony was held at the American Corner along Kairaba Avenue. The grants given are two fold; he Ambassador’s Special Self-Help Programme (SSHP), and The Julia Taft Refugee Fund respectively.
Speaking at the signing ceremony, Charge’s’ Affaires Richard Yoneoka said: “The signing of these projects shows the embassy`s and the US government`s commitment to working with The Gambia on poverty alleviation, community development, and sustainable livelihood improvement. As we traveled upcountry during the end of Ramadan to celebrate with the governors, they told us how big an impact these projects have on your local communities. The US Embassy typically contributes around US$40,000 each year to this programme.”
The acting head of the US mission further told beneficiaries: “In addition, the milling machines, clinics, wells and gardens have touched the lives of these communities. Women, of course close to my heart, have especially benefitted. Because of these projects, many women no longer have to spend hours of hard labour just to feed their families. They now have more time for other income generating activities, enabling them to provide more food for their families and more education for their children. I am confident that your communities will experience the same type of benefits. These projects, however, are not a one-way street. A total amount of US$40,000, or around D1,600,000, is allocated to support 12 self-help projects this year. These projects are different from most development programmes because they are truly community-driven. In addition to designing your projects, each of you has agreed to contribute in some manner to the project, through either land, labour, or money. You have a vested stake in the work that you will carry out, and you are your own boss. If the projects succeed (and I know they will), it is because of the hard work and dedication that you will put into it. I applaud you for your contribution, as we can only succeed if we work together. This signing ceremony marks the beginning of our partnership, but we will need to continue working together to ensure these projects are sustainable.
“We are also here today to award two grants for our Julia Taft Refugee Fund, which amounts to US$25,000, or one million dalasis, to contribute to supporting the large refugee populations in key areas of Foni in the West Coast Region. The projects funded by Julia Taft will support individuals and families fleeing the conflict in Casamance and hosted by Gambian families across The Gambia/Senegal border. In its latest evaluation of refugee populations, the Refugee Commission of The Gambia has registered over 7,000 refugees in 70 communities along the border. Estimates put the total population in the country at approximately 9,000, and these are people who survive primarily on subsistence farming. Supporting a large refugee population by communities or individual families exacerbates already strained infrastructure and resources.”
The beneficiaries of this year’s SSHP are: Munyagen Village Development Committee in the Jokadu given D130,000 for agricultural production and transportation; Jalola Kambeng Kafo of Jali Kunda village, Upper Baddibu given D170,000 for a solar system for potable water supply; Kompin Kawral of Ceesay Kunda village, Nianija given D150,000 for agricultural production support and transportation; Chagai Lower Basic School and Village Development Committee given D89,000; Alkamba Kafo of Kudang, Niamina East given D225,500 for a solar system for electricity and water supply; Keneba Women’s Kawral Kafo, Tumana given D110,000 for labour saving device; Sabi Village Development Committee, Falladu East given D142,000 for sanitary facilities, Nematoulie Kafo of Sankuya village, Jarra West given D130,725; Sare Sarjo Village Development Committee given D110,000; Banjulingding Village Development Committee given D164,780; Niji Saba Women Kafo given D67,535 and Bulanjorr Village Development Committee given 110,000.
The recipients of the Julia Taft Refugee Fund, Ding Ding Bantaba Federation of West Coast Region and Gambia Food and Nutrition Assocaition each received D500,000.
Speaking on behalf of the beneficiaries, Musa Nyassi, Jainaba Marenah-Camara, Mariama Bah-Saine and Wonto saidy thanked the US government, the embassy in Banjul and the Julia Taft Refugee Fund for the assistance.]]>