By MUHAMMED SAILU BAH
The US Embassy in Banjul on Tuesday, 29 September, 2015, signed $54, 000 equivalents to D2, 160, 000 with 14 Self-Help Projects of different communities in the Gambia as well as the Julia Taft Refugee Projects.
Held at the American Corner Comium building on Kairaba Avenue, it brought together various project beneficiaries across the regions.Every year, the US Embassy and its government allocate a specific amount to support Self Help Projects of different communities within the country. In 2014, they allocated a total amount of $40, 000 around D1, 600, 000 to support 12 self-help projects in the Gambia.
Among 112 SSH proposals received by the Embassy, each region with the exception of Banjul submitted project proposals for funding.
Speaking at the occasion, U.S Embassy Charge d’ Affaires Marc Shaw said the signing of the projects represent in a small but meaningful way the Embassy’s and the U.S government’s commitment to working with the people of the Gambia on poverty alleviation, community development and sustainable livelihood improvement.
Charge d’ Affaires Shaw pointed out the U.S Embassy typically contributes around $40, 000 each year to the Ambassador’s Self-Help Fund, which in recent years, these funds had been used for several projects that have had significant impact on the communities in which they were expended.
Among the funded projects, he said included the Sabi weekly “lumoo” market in the Upper River Region that serves more than 3, 000 traders coming from neighboring villages of both the Gambia and Senegal where they built eight bathroom facilities.
The Embassy also provided 10 donkeys and carts to help in agricultural production support and transportation to the Munyagen village community in the North Bank Region.
Changhai Lower Basic School in Sami District, CRR benefited from furniture provided for students and teachers by one of the projects as well as another project which provides electricity and water supply for Kudang Health Centre, utilizing a solar system.
The milling machines, clinics, wells and garden projects which the Embassy supported in the past, Charge d’ Affaires Shaw said have touched the lives of several communities, particularly women .
The projects he went on have made it possible to reduce the number of hours spent on hard labor to feed their families which has also allowed them to spend more time on other income generating activities.
He also noted that the previous projects funded by Julia Taft have supported individuals and families fleeing the conflict in Casamance and hosted Gambian families across the Gambian/Senegalese border.
He added that the refugee Commission of the Gambia have registered over 11, 000 refugees in 81 communities along the border who survive primarily on subsistence farming.
This year he said, the U.S Embassy and its government will award a grant of $25, 000 around D1M to the Gambia Food and Nutrition Agency (GAFNA) which has committed to providing timely and concrete results in improving the lives of refugees in the Gambia.
The project he said would improve early livelihood welfare for refugee and host children.
He noted that their projects have helped a lot of women in various communities for better livelihood.
In his remarks, the Permanent Secretary at the Ministry of Local Government, Lamin Sanneh expressed Gambia government’s appreciation to the U.S Embassy and its government for their efforts in helping the Gambian people in poverty alleviation.
He further commended the US through its embassy and assured the continuous partnership with the Embassy as well as he United States of America.
By MUHAMMED SAILU BAH