By Awa B. Bah
The National Assembly (NA) Select Committee on the Environment, NGO Affairs and Sustainable Development has concluded their weeklong tour of the country which ended in the greater Banjul Area. The Committee visited Action Aid International, FIOH, YMCA, CRS to engage these NGOs on their activities. As part of its mandate under Section 109 of the Constitution, the NA Select Committee on the Environment is assigned to assess environmental and NGOs activities and make recommendations to Government.
During his introductory briefing of the Committee to officials of these NGOs about the tour, Madi Ceesay National Assembly Member for Serrekunda West and member of the Committee, said their mission is a fact-finding one to assess the level of progress and to note down their challenges for onward report to Government. He said the Committee is not a witch hunt but a partner with all NGOs in ensuring the development and sustainability of projects.
The issues raised by these NGOs, has not any been different from that of their counterparts: tax. This they lamented affects their activities and called on the authorities to reconsider it; that they highly depend on donor funding which they said cannot effectively sustain their activities. They however commended the visit of the Committee and said this was timely and hope their issues will be noted for consideration.
Buba Fabureh Director of the NGO ‘Future In Our Hands’ (FIOH), told the visiting Committee members that they have been operating in The Gambia since 1979; that they receive funds from SIDA in Sweden, and from other partners; that FIOH is a dynamic, proactive and development-oriented organisation that promotes improvements in its operations and results.
Omar Badjie, Director of Action Aid International the Gambia (AAITG), said that the organisation was established in 1979 as a registered as local NGO with a Board and Management that oversees their operations; that they are currently implementing a 5th strategy paper on building resilience for social justice in rights program in CRR and NBR, with a national dimension. AAITG he said works with people living in poverty especially with women, children and youth. “Our work is mainly financed through individual and partnership funding,” Badjie said.
At the YMCA, the officer told the visiting NA Committee members that their objective is to empower young people and communities to be proactive and productive agents in their own development; that they carry this out through advocacy; that The Gambia YMCA has been in existence in the Gambia since 1979 and they have been involved in youth related development activities; that they have branches in every region of the Country.
At the end of the visit, Members of the NA Select Committee took turns to comment on the issues raised by these NGOs. They commended the institutions and their leadership in advancing the lives and welfare of women and young people of the country, and assured that all the issues raise will be given the highest consideration they deserve from both the Government and the private sector. The tour ends.