May 9, 2008, 6:40 AM
The congress brought together 60 civil society organizations (CSOs) that are involved in promoting social protection in The Gambia.
The congress also witnessed the adoption of a new constitution that will govern the platform and the election of a coordinating committee that took over from the interim committee.
Speaking at the congress, Edmond Odada, programme manager at the Africa Platform for Social Protection (APSP), said the Platform is interested in seeing CSOs in The Gambia play their role of supporting government efforts to ensure effective delivery of social protection to the vulnerable people.
He said the plight of persons with disability, orphans, vulnerable children, the elderly and the poor members of the society is dire and needs urgent attention not just in The Gambia but in all developing countries.
The APSP is happy to support the congress as they believe that it will open doors and create opportunities for the growth of social protection in The Gambia.
According to him, they believe civil society will become stronger, better coordinated, focused and effective through this platform.
For his part, Balla Musa Joof, interim chairman, said that in October 2011, three delegates from The Gambia participated in an experience-sharing event on social protection organised by the APSP in Accra, Ghana.
He said that one of the expectations of the Ghana meeting was for The Gambia to establish a national platform for social protection.
To move this agenda forward in June 2012, he noted, the APSP supported Mental Health Leadership and Advocacy Programme (MHLAP) and Ageing with a Smile Initiative (ASI) to organize a three-day training on social protection for civil society organizations in The Gambia.
At the end of the training, which was attended by 40 delegates from 25 CSOs and some government agencies, the Kanifing Resolutions on social protection were adopted and an interim committee was formed, he said.
Mr Joof said further that the overall objective of the social protection platform is to support the development and implementation of effective national social protection policies and programmes that are responsive to the needs of people in poverty including older persons, children and persons with disability.
Delivering his speech after being elected as the chairman of the coordinating committee, Mr Joof said they are happy that they have the ability and confidence to move the agenda forward.