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NGO Week highlights successes and challenges

Feb 13, 2012, 11:55 AM | Article By: Yusuf Ceesay

The week-long forum dubbed NGO Week organized by The Association of Non-Governmental Organisations (TANGO) opened Saturday at the TANGO office in Kanifing.

The event which-kick stared with a parade from Africell Junction to the TANGO office, is geared towards availing the NGO community in The Gambia the opportunity to share with the Gambia’s population its contribution and success in development work in support of national development and advancement.

Based on the theme: “Celebrating NGO Contribution to The Gambia’s Socio-Economic and Political Development,” the forum was opened by Hon. Fatim Badjie, minister of Health and Social Welfare on behalf of President Yahya Jammeh.

It also aims to showcase and highlight the “gigantic contributions of NGOs in the country’s development strides”, and will generate a debate on the way forward, given all challenges and opportunities that abound, according to the organisers.

In a statement read on behalf of President Jammeh at the opening ceremony, health minister Fatim Badjie re-assured the gathering that government shall continue to cultivate and nurture an environment of peace and stability, backed by the appropriate legal framework and policy environment to enable NGOs do their work in all parts of the country.

President Jammeh said that the government is always willing to work in partnership with NGOs for the development of the country, adding that in many cases NGOs have reached out to individuals and communities, often remote, who really need their help.

The government, he continued, shall always appreciate and recognize the contribution that NGOs play in the development of the country, so that they can complement government efforts in its development agenda.

On the issue of legal and policy environment, the statement added that the government always maintains an open door policy, as well as the participation of CBOs and NGOs in national development.

However, sometimes it is rather unfortunate that some organizations including CBOs and NGOs often take advantage of this by abusing the conducive environment created by the government to engage in dubious activities that are inimical to the NGO policy and laws of The Gambia, the statement continued.

Ms Agnes Guillaud, EU Charge d’ Affaires, noted that the European Union has been instrumental through the non-state actors strengthening programme to support the event. 

She underscored that one of the very important programs of the EU is increasing understanding with key development partners, such as the NGOs community and Gambia government for improvement of lives in the country.

In his remarks to welcome participants, Ousman Yarbo, Executive Director of TANGO, said a non-state and non-profit civil society organization was founded in 1983 with the primary obligation to promote and enhance NGO capacity and operations to be able to effectively deliver development goods and services for Gambian communities.

The NGO Week, Yarbo added, was organised to raise the profile and celebrate the successes of TANGO by showing appreciation and recognition of the role and contribution of its members in the socio-economic and political development of The Gambia, and to foster interactions and information-sharing among CSOs to add value to the partnership and collaboration, among others.

“The idea of staging an NGO Week had existed with TANGO for quite a while now, but because of resource constraints mainly, its implementation had to be deferred a few times,” said Yankuba Dibba, TANGO board chairman.

Other speakers at the opening ceremony included Dr Kujejatou Manneh, ActionAid International Gambia Director, who also underscored the important roles NGOs play in society.