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Regional seminar wraps up in Southern Casamance

Nov 8, 2016, 9:53 AM | Article By: Abdoulie Nyockeh

The project partner NGOs of the Sustainable Agriculture for Environmental Governance (SAGE) in The Gambia, Senegal and Guinea Bissau, recently converged at Kolda in the Southern Casamance of Senegal for the closing ceremony of the SAGE project.

The project was funded by Spanish Agency for International Development Cooperation (AECID) NGO.

The five-year project was implemented by the NGOs of Agency for the Development of Women and Children (ADWAC) in The Gambia, APRODEL in Guinea-Bissau and FODDE in Senegal.

The project focused on the environment, food security and land management. 

Speaking at the closing ceremony, Almudena Moreno Fernandez, the director of the Spanish Agency for International Development Cooperation (AECID) NGO, lauded partner NGOs in the three countries for their invaluable support to the implementation of the five-year project.

The objective of the project was to increase food production and strengthen the capacity of rural farmers on reduction of post-harvest losses on farm produce, and improve marketing of produce to improve lives and livelihood.

The result of the implementation of the SAGE agreement would manifest itself in enhancing “Food Security and Environmental Governance in Senegal, The Gambia and Guinea-Bissau,” he continued.

According to Fernandez, talking about the border zones of the three countries, the approach requires a strategy which goes beyond the existing political and administrative barriers, as the natural and productive resources do not know the physical barriers.

Since 2010, he added, the agreement (convention) contributed to the food safety and the environmental governance in the above countries, as an answer to the challenges of the resource management shared and integration of the waterside communities.

Oumar Mbaye, assistant governor for Administration of Kolda, thanked the project partner NGOs of the three countries, for their commitment in building and strengthening the capacity of cross-border villages on forest management and sustainable land governance to improve food production and productivity.

He noted that the intervention of the Spanish international NGO in working with NGOs from The Gambia, Senegal and Guinea-Bissau has contributed to cementing the bilateral ties between the participating countries.

Masamba Joof, executive director of ADWAC, commended the governments of the three countries for providing an environment conducive for NGOs in complementing their development efforts, to bring about sustainable livelihood of the cross-border communities.

He noted that the cross-border programme has enhanced the quest for regional integration, adding that the five-year implementation of the SAGE has empowered the participating countries to promote shared learning on best practices of environmental governance, food security, land planning and management.

Joof disclosed that 11,862 improved cooking stoves were distributed along the border villages of The Gambia and Casamance, out of which 127 households along the Gambia/Cassamance border and 120 households between the border villages of Bissau and Senegal benefitted from the package.

The initiative had contributed to a reduction of fuel consumption from 40 to 50 per cent, and had improved the health of families.

The ADWAC director further asserted that the project had built the capacity of environment technical committees along the border villages, supported schools to establish environmental clubs to expose students on environmental management, and promoted cross-border shared learning among beneficiary farmers to enhance effective management of forest and environmental management.

The cross-border programme availed opportunities for beneficiaries to map out strategies and bylaws to promote environmental management, bushfire management and control, and supported the establishment of tree nurseries as alternative measures of propagating local forests.

Mr Joof reiterated the enormous support and collaboration ADWAC has continued to benefit from SAGE, and its implementing partners FODE in Senegal and APRODEL in Guinea-Bissau, during periodic joint project review and planning meetings in Kolda, Senegal.

However, he said, as part of inter-country programmes, ADWAC is leading the environment and energy component, FODE in Senegal leads food security, whilst APRODEL in Guinea-Bissau is leading the inland management component and, as a result, it would strengthen regional integration of the three countries.

He noted that the partnership had enabled implementing partners to share best practices and techniques of promoting sustainable agriculture and environment governance programmes along the border villages.

The partnership has promoted the integrated management of sectoral programming, and by extension giving high priority to women advancement in all component of SAGE project. 

Modou Jagne, a representative of the Governor of Central River Region, lauded the partner NGOs of the three countries for their steadfastness in complementing the efforts of their governments in promoting sustainable environmental governance.

He said strengthening the capacity of beneficiary communities would contribute to the attainment of food security and poverty reduction.

Jagne said the intervention of partner NGOs is in line with government policies in improving lives and livelihood, and he called on the donor to support in the expansion of the project, noting that it had improved the lives of rural dwellers along the border.