By Muhammed Sailu Bah
Social Forum the Gambia (SFG), with support from Action Aid International The Gambia (AAITG) and the European Union, held a one day consultative workshop with partners on Wednesday, 15 July, 2015 at the TANGO conference hall.
The main objectives, according to the organisers, are to revitalise and create linkages with partners and to map out the way forward as well as develop a one year action plan and discuss resource mobilisation.
In his opening statement, Omar Badjie, Country Director AAITG, commended the Social Forum and assured their continuous support and commitment to its activities.
Mr. Badjie also noted the existing good relations between the two Social Fora in The Gambia and Senegal and the need to continue networking and building alliances.
On the importance of the Social Forum, Mr. Badjie said it works to bring burning issues that affect the lives of people to the fore as well as find ways and means to help in advocating and solving those problems.
He cited the issue of water shortage as something that can be taken up by the Social Forum as it is a problem to countries in Africa, in particular, and the world, at large.
“It is indeed very vital to sensitise the public as well as engaged the government on burning issues that affect the lives of people,” said the AAITG Country Director.
Mr. Badjie also noted the importance of developing an action plan as well as working towards resource mobilisation.
“The Social Forum is not about doing concrete implementation such as building structures but rather is about coming up with burning issues affecting the lives of many, as well as help to solve the problems in the form of advocacy. For example climate change is an issue that can be looked at by the Social Forum and work on advocating for government to have good policies towards ending it,” said the AAITG Country Director.
He also cited the reduction of membership as disappointing, and further urged the members of the Social Forum to be working on motivational factors in order to attract members to participate, such as holding regular meetings, among other things.
He concluded by urging the participants to make the best use of the forum and said he is looking to its resolutions.
Alfusainey Kalilu Jabbi, Operation Manager NAOSU, noted their strategic partnership in dealing with some of the issues that members of the social Forum are engaged in, particularly in poverty eradication, climate, food and nutrition security, amongst others.
Mr. Jabbi said the Social Forum can play a very important role in making the world a better place to live in, particularly the Gambia, through collaborative actions of civil society organisations together with government of The Gambia.
“This collaboration can be pursued along the five pillars of the National development blue print, the PAGE and the objective of Vision 2020 for growth and development,” he said.
Mr. Jabbi assured NAO’s support and their commitment to the activities of the Social Forum and other stakeholders in the Gambia through support to the implementation of Gambia-EU Cooperation projects and programmes. He said this can be done by building the capacity of civil society in areas such as project proposal writing, responding to call for proposals, managing development results and monitoring and evaluation, among others.
“It is our expectation that by the end of the consultative workshop, there will be an established Social Forum as well as high level of both membership and participants in realising the objectives of Social Forum. I, therefore, would like to enjoin the Forum and it members to make good use of the opportunities that are available,” said the NAOSU Operation Manager.
Amadou S.O. Taal, Chairperson, Steering Committee Social Forum, highlighted the aims and objectives of the Forum.
He reported on the outcomes of the Africa Social Forum and World Social Forum held in Dakar and Tunis respectively in which the SFG participated.
Mrs. Yadicon Njie Eribo also made a presentation of Post-Mortem of the African Social Forum in Dakar.
A presentation was also made on the Strengthening, Way Forward and Action Plan of SFG by Mr. Saikou Gassama of AAITG.
This was followed by group work, discussions and presentations and a final wrapping up by Mr. Gassama.
The event was chaired by Ousman Yabo, Executive Director of TANGO.