youth and sports minister Hadrammeh Sidibeh has said that, The Gambia Songhai
Initiative (GSI) project is designed to tackle growing youth unemployment and
increasing poverty among the country’s rural population.
“It is also developed against the growing need to transform the agricultural sector into a productive, efficient sustainable and remunerative enterprise,” he said, during the graduation of the 5th batch of 39 trainees at the GSI center in North Bank Region village Chamen, last week.
Minister Sidibeh said, the project will also help to tackle the multiple challenges of food insecurity, environmental degradation and youth unemployment.
The GSI project was initiated by the government of The Gambia through the ministry of youth and sports with the support of UNDP. Since inception in 2014, the center has trained more than 200 young people across the country.
The Minister went on to say that, Songhai development model is to create rural cities to stem rural migration through an integrated agriculture linked to industrialisation and service provision, thereby making farming a viable proposition for youth, creating jobs and sustaining livelihood. “The ministry, government and our development partners are working to address some of the challenges that the center is faced with,” he said.
The negotiations have already being conducted to increase the student dormitories from 40 to 80, which will be funded by the MRC Holland Foundation. “In addition, funds are secured from the ministry of finance for the rehabilitation of the student canteen to make it a modern cafeteria and provision of electricity supply from NAWEC,” he revealed.
He noted that in the near future, a full-fledged project implementation unit capacitated to handle all management matters of the project will be put in place. “This is critical in safeguarding the operational independence of the project,” he added.
Abdou Touray, representative of UNDP resident coordinator said, the training offered by GSI will not only ensure personal satisfaction but also a solid pathway to employment.
Mr Touray said, the Songhai development model is providing not only a viable mechanism of harnessing potentials but enhancing youth productivity and their contribution to national economic growth.
He said UNDP is supporting a tracer study on center graduate and funding a consultancy on the critical assessment and business plan for the center. Both research findings will provide evidence for future policy and program choice or decision. “Together we can change and transform our economy, strengthen resilience of communities and individually eradicate poverty,” he said.