Apr 30, 2010, 3:49 PM
The US Embassy in Banjul on Monday disbursed over three million dalasi to 15 organizations and institutions in all the regions and municipalities in the country.
The grants, amounting to D3,800,000 are part of three recurring US State Department initiatives: The Ambassador’s Special Self Help Program, Democracy and Human Rights Fund, and the Julia Taft Refugee Fund.
The recipients come from every region of The Gambia, and will be using the award funds to complete projects as diverse as food processing, a solar system for a health center, Internet connectivity, community empowerment programs, and women’s advocacy initiatives.
Speaking at the signing ceremony held at the American Corner along Kairaba Avenue, the United States ambassador to The Gambia, Edward M Alford, said the move demonstrated his embassy’s and the US government’s commitment to working with The Gambia on democracy, human rights and other community development and livelihood issues.
According to Ambassador Alford, over the past eleven months, he had traveled throughout the country often visiting and inaugurating previous projects of this nature.
He noted that the milling machines, clinics, wells and gardens have touched the lives of these communities, and will hopefully continue to make a difference for years to come.
He said women, in particular, have especially benefited, and because of these projects many women no longer have to spend hours of hard labour just to feed their families.
‘They now have more time for other activities, enabling them to provide more food for their families, focus on additional means to earn money and provide further education for their children,’ he stated.
Ambassador Alford added that the democracy and human right fund provides financial assistance to small-scale activities that support democratic institutions, promote political pluralism and protect and advance human rights, noting that these are primarily goals of the United States government and the embassy in Banjul.
‘The DHRF is one of the many mechanisms that the US government uses as part of our strategy to encourage participation, promote mutual respect and improve livelihoods”, he emphasized.
For the Julia Taft refugee fund, Ambassador Alford stated that it will contribute to supporting large refugee populations in selected communities in Foni in the West Coast Region, and that these grants will support individuals and families fleeing the conflict in Casamance and those Gambian families who receive them.
Meanwhile, the beneficiaries for the Ambassador’s Special Self Help Program are as follows: Kerr Demba Holleh village NBR - cassava processing $5635 (D174,700); Sare Soffie Village CRR South - coos mill/labour saving/income generation $3387 (D105,000); Banni/Buduck/Jahaur Villages - community and back yard orchards and vegetable garden $6515 (D201,960); Kuwonkuba village URR North - coos mill/labor saving/income generation $3387 (D105,000); Demba Kunda kuta village URR South - solar system for water and electricity supply $4400 (D136,400); Bureng Village LRR - coos mill/labour saving/income generation $3387 (D105,000); Jagil village West Coast Region - coos threshing machine/labour saving/income generation $7097 (D220,000); and Bakoteh Annex Lower Basic School/Kanifing Municipality - internet connectivity $713 (D22,110).
For the democracy and human rights projects, five organizations benefited from the fund namely, Activista–Gambia advocacy campaigns on the right to food $12,845 (D398,175); Female Lawyers’ Association of the Gambia West Coast/Lower River /Upper River Regions - enhancing access to justice for women $10,435 (D323,500); Gambia Teachers Union/nationwide - awareness creation for female teachers on legal instruments $12,919 (D400,500); Mandingmory foundation for performing arts/nationwide - promoting democracy and human rights through creative arts $12,919 (D400,500); and Network of participatory methodologies practitioners/ nationwide - community empowerment for active participation at local government level.
For the Julia Taft refugee projects, two organizations shared the $25,000 (D899,996) namely, Gambia Red Cross Society/west coast region - provision of farming tools, income generation skills acquisition and HIV/AIDS training received $13,736 (D494,496); and Children and Community Initiatives for Development/west coast region - labour saving devices, provision of new and rehabilitation of water points and income generation/livelihood activities for $11,264 (D405,500).