Staff from ActionAid International The Gambia and ActionAid Senegal have agreed to strengthen relationships in order to achieve stronger results in the second phase of the Agro Ecology and Resilience Project. The projectis being implemented in both countries and is primed on three key areas: Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR), Climate Resilient Sustainable Agriculture (CRSA) and Documentation and Shared Learning. Under the project, ActionAid is working to help smallholder farmers, particularly women, to become more resilient to the challenges of climate change by adapting their agriculture, using strategies to reduce the risk of disaster and rolling out early warning systems.
At an inception meeting of the second phase of the project held in Mbour, Senegal from the 10th to 14th August, the two ActionAid offices agreed to closely work together with communities in developing Disaster Risk Reduction plans, strongly collaboration across teams in both countries and between country programmes and the International Secretariat with a view to strengthening the quality of project delivery to ensure better results. In addition better and more efficient systems will be put in place for effective financial management and communications to enhance shared learning. Key among the various issues discussed was agreement on key objectives, activities and methodologies for the second Phase.
A total of 33 individuals from Senegal, The Gambia, the United States of America, the International Secretariat of ActionAid International and the donor were in attendance. The second phase of the AER project has already started and will last for three years. During this period, it is expected that six communities (three each in The Gambia and Senegal), with a focus on women, will be better able to withstand the shocks and impacts of natural disasters, be able to reduce risks and participate in and deliver emergency preparedness programs. The promotion of long-term resilience both within participating communities and throughout the region through documentation, shared learning and active engagement of partners, organizations, duty bearers, civil society, donor, and other actors is another expectation from the project.
At the opening ceremony, the Executive Directors of ActionAid Senegal Dellaphine Rauch Houekpon and The Gambia Omar Badji, expressed happiness at the successes achieved in the first phase and called for a redoubling of efforts to achieve greater success in phase 2. They both emphasised the need to put in place strategies and methods to strengthen the partnership between the two offices and to take into account lessons learnt from other countries including ActionAid’s International Secretariat. The Executive Director of ActionAid USA Charmaine Shah called on world leaders to find new pathways to deepen work on climate resilience sustainable agriculture. They thanked the donor for the support and the communities for their sacrifices and collaboration with partners.
It could be recalled that the first phase of the AER project was earlier reviewed in Kaolack, Senegal where farmers The Gambia and Senegal revealed that significant successes were achieved. Women smallholder farmers noted that the Vulnerability Analysis (PVA) exercise afforded them a chance to be empowered through participation and making decisions at community level on development issues. “We now have a better understanding of our context and are better prepared to respond to hazards should they occur”, said Kaddy Jammeh from Toubakolong village in The Gambia. “This project has made us become resilient. For us, with or without rain we can survive”, said Awa Jallow on behalf of the Senegalese communities of Kedougou, Niodior and Tamba. Farmers identified availability of quality seeds, food, improved planting materials, enhancement of household income, improvements in child welfare and education as some of the successes of the project. They however noted that sharing of local knowledge, limited resources and inadequate awareness of climate change issues are some of the challenges they faced under the project. These will be addressed in the second phase.
The inception meeting in Mbour ended with bilateral side meetings and a cultural display by a local entertainment group organized by ActionAid Senegal.