Keita, the deputy National Coordinator of Tostan International The Gambia has
been appointed as the first national coordinator of the grassroots NGO
operating in the Upper River Region (URR).
He replaced the Senegalese born coordinator, Ansu Kambaye, who has proceeded on retirement.
Keita started working with Tostan as a partner since its inception in the Gambia in 2006 when he was with the Women’s Bureau as a regional programme officer for URR.
In 2011, he was appointed as Assistant National Coordinator until his recent appointment as the first Gambian to be at the helm of Tostan.
Speaking in an exclusive interview, Mr. Keita thanked Tostan international for the trust and confidence bestowed in him.
Commenting on his development aspirations for the NGO, Keita added that his plans are diverse, and his immediate priorities are in line with Tostan global priorities as spelt out in the strategic investment goals.
“My most important plans are to facilitate the scale up of Tostan Community Empowerment Programme (CEP) into more communities in URR in the coming three years and also to ensure sustainability of the programme in the communities and to demonstrate impact,” he noted.
The programme, he said, was demand driven by so many communities in URR and beyond, adding that he plans to implement more programmes in URR communities.
Tostan’s non-formal holistic education program, he went on, was based on human rights and Tostan’s associated responsibilities.
The first phase, ‘Kobi’, builds a foundation in human rights, followed by the ‘Aawde’ phase which focuses on literacy and economic empowerment.
Communities continue to demonstrate interest in the CEP and have consistently impressed Tostan and partners, especially UNICEF with their enthusiasm for engaging with new information in a context that respects both their cultural traditions and decision-making processes.
The new Tostan boss added that scaling up of the community empowerment programme has been their top priority at national and international office levels in Dakar.
Keita explained that Tostan in close collaboration with the Women’s Bureau and UNICEF Gambia has worked throughout The Gambia’s (in URR) since 2006.
Through the implementation of CEP, he said, 173 communities have directly benefitted from the programme and another 70 indirectly through organized diffusion model of adopting a friend, neighbour, husband, and wife and later in the other nearby villages where participants shared the new knowledge they learnt in the classes as their social networks and groups.
The program, he continued, has made significant contributions to the joint efforts to accelerate the abandonment of female genital cutting, child marriage and other forms of violence against women and children.
It also equips communities with the capacity for democratic leadership and collective action, thus 173 communities have all declared their pledge in declarations to abandon the harmful traditional practices.
The new Tostan boss added that their programme outcomes covered five key areas of Governance, Human Rights, Education, Health, Environment and Economic Development, adding that these are all done with the use of their own local languages.
He disclosed that they have launched a three-year programme in 30 communities in URR called ‘Break Through Generation project’ as part of scale up strategies.