Action Aid Lunches the Promotion of Children’s Rights Project in Soma

By Fatoumatta K Jallow

Action Aid on Thursday 9th June 2016, launched the promotion of Children’s Rights Project in Jarra Soma. The delegation of the European Union to the Gambia has awarded a grant of 386,200€ to the ActionAid International The Gambia.

The grant agreement was signed between ActionAid and the EU which is to ensure that the rights and the needs of children in The Gambia are respected and fulfilled with a particular focus on the central, upper and the lower regions of the country. These three regions, according to UNICEF, have the highest prevalence rate for child marriage, female genital mutilation/cutting, low birth registration rates and educational attainment for children well below the national average.

Given this background, the project will address a number of challenges including limited knowledge and misconceptions about children’s rights, children’s own limited knowledge of their rights; weak enforcement and implementation of domestic policies and legal instruments that should protect children’s rights; limited coordination and advocacy skills among CSOs and the socio-cultural and religious beliefs and practices which engender violence against children and condone child abuse.
The Child Protection Alliance (CPA) and the Forum for African Women’s Education Gambia Chapter (FAWEGAM) will implement the project under the overall supervision and management of ActionAid. To this effect, a contract agreement has been signed between the institutions for the project’s smooth implementation in providing children with skills, knowledge and confidence to understand their rights, responding to their needs through support to duty bearers and building effective referral and monitoring systems to enshrine rights and protection and thirdly working at institutional level to back up local actions with legal framework that respected and appropriate. It is expected that by the end of the project , 111,700 people in the 3 targeted areas (children, their families and community members) would have been reached, increasing their awareness of children’s Rights and their motivation and capacity to respect and protect the children in their communities and combat traditional harmful practices. 4,500 children will directly benefit from improved protection and referral services, and have greater involvement in the decision-making structures that affect their lives. Of these 540 will be trained as leaders and change agents. Improved enforcement of laws that protect the rights of children will benefit all children throughout the Gambia.

Omar Badji Executive Director of Action Aid the Gambia (AAITG), in his welcoming Statement said by empowering child focused organizations to promote children’s rights, this project is another step towards positively changing the lives of the vulnerable i.e, children especially with special needs (disabled). But most importantly the project will empower children as rights claimants with requisite skills and knowledge to be able to demand for rights and their protection.
Mr. Salifu Puye  Governor of Lower River Region(LRR) said “We all know that Children’s Rights are human rights therefore it is every one’s responsibility to protect these rights by supporting children’s rights through theirs lives from the house to the school and communities to be better leaders of tomorrow. He cited the English saying, “catch them young”, so are they to be groomed for their future responsibilities.

Mr.Josselin Amalfi EU Representative said the project budget of 400,000 Euro(approximately equivalent to 20 million dalasis), is co-funded by the European union(EU) to the tune of 300,000 Euro, and ActionAid with a significant contribution of 100,000 Euro. He expects this intervention will directly promote child rights in the Gambia, and ensure that their needs are duly respected and fulfilled.