Dec 2, 2010, 11:48 AM
In response to the calls made on them by the people of the Kombos, the Gambia Committee on Traditional Practice affecting the Health of Women and Children (Gamcotrap), in partnership with Save the Children and UNIFEM yesterday launched a project, targeting the Kombos in the Western Region.
The project dubbed "Eradicating Harmful Traditional Practice through Rights" will last for three years, starting from 2010 to 2012.
Addressing the audience at the launch of the programme, at the Paradise Suite Hotel, Dr. Isatou Touray, the Executive Director of Gamcotrap revealed that the project aimed at creating favourable environment for the implementation of programmes that eradicate Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) in The Gambia by 2012.
It also seeks to create conducive environment for the eradication of FGM in targeted communities, and to strengthen the capacity and skills of various actors intervening in targeted communities.
"In pursuit of our mandate, Gamcotrap has for the past years taken the initiative through the support of Save the Children Sweden based in Dakar, to use the right-based approach in addressing traditional practices, children and women's rights and gender-based violence," she said.
According to her, Western Region is a very important strategic location that requires tremendous efforts to address the growing concerns of the prevalence of FGM.
Representing the UN system, Dr. Meritxell Relano UNICEF's Officer-in-Charge said that the project is significant to the evolution of child protection in The Gambia since more communities would be equipped with the right information.
This, he added, would address traditional practices that affect the health and rights of women and children, notably FGM, early or forced marriages.
According to him, the third multiple indicator cluster survey for 2005-2006, estimated the prevalence rate of FGM at 78.3% nationally with regional variations. "The practice is considered a human right violation," he stressed.
He added that both FGM/C and early and forced marriages contribute considerably to maternal, child mortality and morbidity in The Gambia.
He commended The Gambia government for its commitment in protecting women and children with ratification of international instruments and national legislation, while hailing Gamcotrap for their efforts.
Deputy Permanent Secretary at the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare, Mr. Alhagie Omar Sey commended the Gamcotrap and partners for the project, describing it as a step in the right direction.
Anniken Elisson Tyden, the Regional Representative for Save the Children Sweden reaffirmed her organisation's commitment in protecting the welfare of children from all forms of violence.
She revealed that the project is not only limited to The Gambia, but also includes Senegal, Guinea and Mali.
She recognised the efforts and achievements of Gamcotrap in the fight against FGM, but noted that yet still the prevalence is very high in the country.
The Governor of Western Region, Lamin Sanneh encouraged the people of his region to work in close collaboration with Gamcotrap for the successful implementation of the project.