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Non-Governmental Affairs Agency Clears The Air

Oct 2, 2009, 5:12 AM | Article By: Alieu Jabang

The Non-Governmental Affairs Agency, under the Ministry of Interior has cleared the air on what it described as "misrepresentation made by the public and most departments on the actual office responsible for the co-ordination of NGO Affairs in The Gambia".

Speaking at a press briefing at their office in Banjul yesterday, the Programme Officer for Information, Education and Communication, Mr. Momodou Badjie, said NGOs have been operating in The Gambia well before the country attained its independence. He cited the Catholic Relief Service (CRS), which he said, has since in 1963 been operating in The Gambia.

According to him, prior to independence NGOs have been operating as relief agencies that only respond to emergencies situations. He explained that due to some changes in socio-economic landscape, NGOs started to refocus their programmes on addressing the development needs of the people.

He revealed that because of the high proliferation of NGOs, The Gambia government had established a desk office at the Department of Community Development, called National Executive Council (NEC) in 1983, to advise government on the operations of the NGOs. He said the primary role of NEC was to help improve the overall co-ordination of NGOs for effective contributions to national development.

"In 1986 NEC was renamed the Advisory Committee for the Co-ordination of NGOs (ACCNO). ACCNO was given the mandate to co-ordinate the activities of NGO, including assessment of their application for registration, as well as the evaluation of their programmes. ACCNO failed due to logistic constraints. It was therefore considered necessary to put in place new mechanisms to ensure that NGOs embark on programmes or projects that are viable. It was for the unhindered implementation of this that there was an embargo in 1995 on the registration of new NGOs," he explained.

Mr. Badjie further explained that in May 1996, the NGO degree was promulgated, preparing a new direction for the effective participation of NGOs in the national development process. This, he said, has set the NGO Affairs Agency and its mandate.

According to him, the degree is in two parts: The Protocol of Accord (first schedule) and the Code of Conduct (second schedule). He said the former stipulates the relation between NGOs and government, while the latter governs the relations between NGOs and beneficiaries, donors and other NGOs.

Mr. Badjie further stated that his agency is responsible for all NGOs affairs, ranging from registration and recommendations of their existence and not TANGO, which he said, is the umbrella body for 65 NGOs, including some Community-Based Organisations (CBO) in The Gambia. He called on the public to understand the difference between his agency and TANGO.

Badjie also used the opportunity to inform all registered NGOs about a new grant of 10 million Japanese Yen, equivalent to D3 million. He said interested NGOs can start filing their applications, either on line or hard copies, noting that the grant would be on health, education, agriculture and culture.

Also, speaking was the Director of Non-Governmental Affairs Agency (NGAA), Mrs. Musu Sonko, who also made similar remarks and urged the public to co-operate.