The two-day synergy was held at Kerewan Area Council in the North Bank Region.
Strengthening Transnational Partnership and networks for enhanced participatory local Governance Project (STRAP) is a three-year project being implemented in the Gambia, Ghana and Zimbabwe from 2011 to 2015.
Speaking on the occasion, Mustapha Njie, Secretary General of Gambia Association of Local Government Authority (GALGA), noted that Peer Review is the last of the project and calls on the council’s authorities to be proactive in promoting good governance and public accountability of resources.
He said STRAP aims at sharing experiences and good practices on governance.
He thanked the presidents of The Gambia and Zimbabwe for promoting the spirit of Pan-Africanism, noting that the people themselves need to find out the solution to their problems.
He said the International Peer Review mechanism of the sister local councils would contribute immensely in improving efficiency, accountability and gender.
He noted that the Local Government Act of 1997 clearly demonstrates the government’s commitment as stipulated in the 1997 constitution.
The GALGA boss disclosed that the project would finance D530,000 community projects to enhance lives and livelihood.
He lauded Urban Council Association of Zimbabwe (UCAZ) for providing funds for The Gambia, Ghana and Zimbabwe to accelerate good practices.
He noted that the community projects are meant to improve socio-economic development and contribute to poverty reduction, as the project would not fund infrastructure project.
He hailed the leadership of the beneficiary councils in the execution of project and expressed satisfaction with the level of implementation.
Alasan Kieta, STRAP project coordinator at Kerewan Area Council, expressed gratitude on the partnership with local authorities in Ghana, Zimbabwe and The Gambia in strengthen local governance and accountability.
He said the council has put in place the formulation of 5-year strategic plan 2010 – 2015.
Lamin Ceesay, chairperson of Kerewan Area Council, underscored the commitment of his council in promoting accountability and good governance in respect of taxpayer monies.
He said the Peer Review is vital as it helps local councils to be more responsive to the needs of the electorate.
It helps individual councils to be more accountable and committed to payment of counterpart contribution.
He used the moment to express concern on stagnant payment of rates and taxes, noting that it has affected council service delivery.
The two-day visit enabled councillors and TAC members to use the opportunity to share and ask pertinent questions geared towards building sound management procedures to improve decentralization structures.
STRAP Programme seeks to strengthen regional local government association networks, improve local democratic governance by increasing citizen participation, enhance regional solidarity for the citizens in the partner countries, and to strengthen capacity for sustainable development in local communities.
Seedy Touray, Chief Executive Officer of Kerewan Area Council, described the partners as useful and boosting human resource development on key indicators of good governance for the review exercise in such areas as: Equity, Transparency, Accountability, Participation and Efficiency.
He praised GALGA for their foresight in partnering with UCAZ in strengthening the good spirit of enhancing public accountability through sharing of best practice.
He assured of the council’s commitment in sustaining the gain registered during the implementation of the project.
Dr TSERAYI MACHI NDA, team leader of UCAZ, said the partnership had established city to city cooperation through sharing of experiences and identifying of similarity, gaps in governance and accountability.
He said the council should be accountable to the citizenry and called on the member beneficiaries to be proactive in enhancing citizen participation and involvement in the governance aspect of various councils.
The UCAZ boss said the council should operate within the framework of providing services to the people, irrespective of their political affiliations.
He expressed concern on the absence of gender policy at Local Government Area level in The Gambia and Ghana and called on the authorities to be vigilant in developing policies within the framework of national gender policy to enhance women participation at LGA level.
He said the council gender policies would empower women participation in democratic process and in decision making process.
He reiterated that council budget process should be participatory and taxpayers’ participation would enhance public trust and confidence building.
UCAZ boss noted that such exchange visit should continue through developing Memorandum of Understanding, which should be complemented with budget to enhance Peer Review of local councils in The Gambia, Ghana and Zimbabwe.
GOMOA West District Assembly’s planning coordinator and project coordinator for STRAP, Daniel Tenkorang Baah, noted that the partnership had enabled partners to share best experiences and strategies.
Momodou Lamin Jagne, Farafenni ward councilor, who delivered the vote of thanks on the occasion, said the council would work on the recommendations.
The two-day convergence had enabled them to learn new skills and knowledge and adoption of good practices, he said.
The forum was attended by ward councillors and members of technical advisory committees.