Jul 18, 2011, 2:17 PM
The Non-State Actors (NSA) Strengthening Programme in The Gambia was yesterday officially launched at the Kairaba Beach Hotel.
The programme, being funded by European's Union 9th European Development Fund and implemented in partnership with the government of The Gambia, within the terms of the Cotonou Agreement signed in June 2000, reflects the shared commitment of the European Union and the government of The Gambia to strengthen the voice and role of civil society, as an important component of good governance.
The aim of the programme was to strengthen the capacities of Non-State Actors to enable effective contribution to the development process as a way of creating conditions for the inclusions of the poor in economic, environmental and social development activities for greater equality of growth and for the maintenance of peace, security and a positive relations between Non-State Actors and the government. It also seeks to enhance the role of NSAs in contributing to good governance, poverty reduction and the enhancement of sustainable livelihoods in The Gambia.
The NSA programme, which begins full implementation on September 1 2010, will take a comprehensive and all-embracing approach to developing skills of local communities and civil society organisations.
The programme coincided with the launch of a 'Call for Proposals' for the award of grants by the programme to Non-State Actors in The Gambia. The overall budget for grants amounts to one million euros, equivalent to (D36m), with individual grants available of up to ninety thousand euros, equivalent to (D3, 250,000).
In his inaugural statement on behalf of the Permanent Secretary at the Ministry of Finance and National Authorising Officer of EDF programmes, Mr. Mod Ceesay, Director of Loans and Dept Management, Ministry of Finance emphasised the need for constructive engagement between the state and civil society in pursuit of the common goal of national growth and development.
He said that with the ground prepared he is of the view that NSA/civil society must play their part and play it well.
According to him, maintaining trust between governments/civil society and citizens is essential for good governance.
"The burning question therefore is how can NSAs, like the government, increase accountability both socially and financially and effectively represent the people whom they seek to serve?" he said, adding that in order to build trust, NSAs must first be seen to be accountable, responsible and above all credible.
Ceesay added that citizens' involvement and inclusion of the poor and marginalised in all facets of development activity must be a priority for NSAs and will improve the quality of policies that are formulated and services that are delivered to them.
"Citizens involvement and the utilisation of local knowledge and expertise may seem difficult and challenging, but it does in the long run help deepen understanding and build mutual trust," Ceesay noted, while paying tribute to the EU/Gambia partnership, which dates back to more than 25 years.
Other speakers were Mr. Ousman Yabo, the Chairman of the Programme Technical Advisory Committee and Executive Director of TANGO and Dr. Isatou Touray of GAMCOTRAP.