Apr 22, 2015, 10:58 AM
75 million euros that the European Union was set to disburse to the former
government of Yahya Jammeh, but later cancelled it is now set to be released to
President Adama Barrow and his government.
Neven Mimica, European Union commissioner for international cooperation and development, told The Point newspaper that the EU had initially decided to disburse the 75 million euros to the former government through various projects.
“We have already decided this, but then we were not able to do it because we suspended direct engagement with the government,” he told this paper, shortly after signing the 75 million financial package with new Gambia government yesterday at Kairaba Beach Hotel, where President Barrow is temporarily operating his office.
The EU had initially allocated 150 million euros to The Gambia government for the period 2014-2020 under the 11th European Development Fund (EDF).
Under this agreement, the EU was to first give the government 33 million euros, but this was rescinded. Subsequently, the union suspended all direct support to the government due to the worsening human rights situation presided over Mr Jammeh, the former president.
Commissioner Mimica said after cutting financial support to the government, the EU was supporting The Gambia through working with the NGOs and some other partners in the country.
“But now we really come back with the fully effect of the 75 million euros from the EDF and from the Trust Fund [EU Emergency Trust Fund for Africa],” he said.
The 75 million euros immediate financial package includes a project of 10.5 million euro to reinforce access to the most vulnerable populations, including female-headed households, to markets and socio-economic facilities. This will be done through the feeder road rehabilitation programme.
It also includes a project of 20.5 million euros which will aim to create growth and employment opportunities, in particular for youths, as well as better access to food.
A project of 11.5 million euro is also part of the package, and it is designed to improve food security through supporting the provision of food, cash, treatment of acute malnutrition, as well as prevention of all forms of under-nutrition.
Under the EU Emergency Trust Fund for Africa, The Gambia will benefit from contribution of 11 million euro aimed at increasing job opportunities for youths.
The other project of 21.5 million euros as part of the package is to address climate change, food security and support to civil society organizations, democracy and human rights, among others.
150 million euro more to come
Commissioner Mimica said in addition to the 75 million euros, the EU is already preparing a medium term package of 150 million euros which focuses on building the capacities of the state, and on job creation.
He said an EU technical mission is to visit Banjul to identify and discuss areas of mutual interest.
The Gambian minister of foreign affairs, international cooperation and Gambians abroad, Ousainou Darboe, described the support package of the EU as “the rescue and revival of The Gambia”.
“The EU in its efforts to address post dictatorship era has come to our aid,” he said. “We wish to register our profound gratitude for the partnership that the EU has been fostering with The Gambia. We can assure the European Union that The Gambia is now on the path to true democracy.”
The EU, as The Gambia’s main development partner, has helped deliver important development goals for the country, including for example, paving of nearly 50 per cent of the Gambian road network through projects funded by the EDF.
Analysts said the resumption of EU aid to The Gambia is a vote of confidence for the country’s new leader, Adama Barrow.