high-level delegation (EU Ambassador and officials from the United Nations
Office for Project Services - UNOPS) has visited two communities in the North
Bank Region of The Gambia, where UNOPS is implementing rehabilitation of feeder
roads to reinforce access of the most vulnerable populations to markets and
The delegation comprising the EU Ambassador to The Gambia, Attila Lajos, UNOPS Regional Director for Africa, Honore Dainhi, UNOPS Anglophone West Africa Director, Ifeoma Esther Charles-Monwuba, and UNOPS Gambia Country Manager, Shabnam Mallick, traveled to Kerewan and Alikali Kunda in the North Bank Region to assess the progress and challenges in the construction of the roads.
With the contribution from the European Union, and in collaboration with the Ministry of Transport, Works and Infrastructure and the National Roads Authority, the three-year programme is rehabilitating around 104 km of rural roads in Upper River, North Bank and Central River regions to improve access to markets and socio-economic facilities for some of the most vulnerable populations in The Gambia.
“The welcome given by the communities is delightful, and it is fulfilling to note the communities’ ownership of the assets and their conviction that the roads will improve their daily lives,” said Shabnam Mallick UNOPS Country Manager in The Gambia.
In Alkali Kunda, the delegation witnessed an unprecedented number of female workers involved in the construction of the 2.6 km road, using labour intensive methods that create employment and a source of livelihood.
“It was heartwarming to see the enthusiasm and dedication of the women at work on the project sites. This is a strong contribution to gender equality that is helping these women to acquire new skills while positively impacting their livelihoods,” remarked Honore Dainhi UNOPS Regional Director for Africa.
The delegation also paid a courtesy call on the Governor of the North Bank Region, Ebrima K.S. Dampha, during which UNOPS work and EU cooperation in the region were discussed.
On 29 May 2019, the UNOPS officials held an audience with Vice President of The Gambia, Her Excellency Dr Isatou Touray. They discussed ways in which UNOPS could strengthen its cooperation with the government and help implement the National Development Plan 2018 – 2021. UNOPS highlighted its expertise in infrastructure delivery, public procurement and project management brought through which it is supporting governments in more than 80 countries worldwide.
‘’The Vice President has shown her excitement and appreciation of the innovation UNOPS has introduced in the feeder roads project that we’re implementing. Part of the work is not just machine based but we’re doing what we called labour intensive roads construction, involving employment of the youth in the communities where we work. And we have over 400 youths employed in our road project and over 50% of them are women. And so, through this initiative we’ve allowed women, to come into that space of construction but also to aspire, so now they are having exposure to engineering, to other job opportunities within the construction industry and we believe that this will make them aspire to go beyond just working on that road now to become engineers themselves and site supervisors in the near future’’ UNOPS Anglophone West Africa Director Ifeoma Charles-Monwuba said.
As part of the planned two-day visit, the UNOPS officials also met with the Donor Partners Group (DPG) in The Gambia to drive UNOPS’ interest and advantages in providing sustainable development, infrastructure project management and procurement solutions in The Gambia.