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Changing Lives in The Gambia: A United Nations Resident Coordinator Blog

WorldAfricaChanging Lives in The Gambia: A United Nations Resident Coordinator Blog
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When my mandate began, in 2018, not long after the end of the dictatorship [The two-decade rule of Yahya Jammeh], The new government was already embarking on a series of reforms, reviewing the constitution, the judiciary and the security sector, and the United Nations had allocated funds for peacebuilding.

Women working in a rice field, The Gambia

truth and union

An important development was the establishment of the Truth, Reconciliation and Reparations Commission (TRRC), with support from the United Nations and other partners.

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People were enthusiastic about adopting the commission, which has been very important for the country. Expectations were high from the victims, from the population, but also from the various partners. It was important that this should be a Gambian driven process to avoid any influence from outsiders. We helped set it up and provided the necessary expertise to get it running.

The Ministry of Justice needs to be strengthened, because they are leading that process, and this is the first time that they have had to deal with such a case. Here again, we are providing expertise to work on a roadmap by which the recommendations of the Commission can be implemented.

We include process communication: we want to make sure that communities, local governments and civil society all know what roles they have to play and manage expectations. These reforms are not going to happen in a day, it will take years and we need to make sure that is understood.

Now is the time to put reforms into practice. So far, the government has released a white paper approving almost all the recommendations. COVID-19 The pandemic slowed down the process, but I think they are still determined to do more.

Amadou Jobe, a returning migrant, trains trainees in a workshop in Banjul, The Gambia.

Amadou Jobe, a returning migrant, trains trainees in a workshop in Banjul, The Gambia.

lay a strong foundation

It is important to have a government that shows leadership. If not, you can outline a vision of where you think the country should go, but you’ll get nowhere.

We have supported the creation of a Department of Government for Strategic Planning and Delivery within the Office of the President. We’ve trained staff, and shown them best practice in other countries.

There was no minister for gender when we arrived, so we advocated for a new ministry to be set up, and we are seeing progress in terms of women empowerment.

Coming out of twenty years of dictatorship where human rights abuses were rampant, we supported the creation of a National Human Rights Commission, which is fully functional and, in many ways, a centrally important body that oversees the implementation of the TRRC. Will do

Going forward, it is important for The Gambia to succeed in building strong institutions, which is true for all countries. If the institutions are weak, you can’t execute any plans, and you waste resources.

I think this country is moving in the right direction. We now have many more partners, and the donor community is growing. After a period of five years, the transformation is almost complete, and we have helped the government lay the foundation for most of the reforms, policies and strategies.

Brothers Alhadje and Abduli Fal's fruit and vegetable business in Kanuma, The Gambia, is supported by the United Nations Capital Development Fund

Brothers Alhadje and Abduli Fal’s fruit and vegetable business in Kanuma, The Gambia, is supported by the United Nations Capital Development Fund

change life for the better

In addition to supporting reforms, we have been an active participant in growing the economy, empowering women, and climate action.

In terms of the economy, where tourism plays an important role, UN agencies have focused on providing training for young people and vulnerable groups such as returning migrants and giving them seed capital to start their own businesses. Often, returning migrants feel like a burden on their families, but with our help, many of them have been able to thrive.

Unfortunately, this is a country with significant violence against women, including female genital mutilation. Sometimes women don’t want to talk about the violence they face, so we’ve set up hotlines they can call, and centers where they can go for treatment, and support Can get

The climate crisis is affecting The Gambia, particularly in terms of flooding; Last year, there was the worst flood in 38 years. It may not have been on the scale of the floods seen in Pakistan, but for a small country with a small population, it made a big impact.

Our agencies provided food and shelter for those displaced by the floods, and provided clean drinking water, but we are also helping populations adapt and be better prepared before the next flood hits.

I believe we have changed life in The Gambia for the better. We are still in the early stages, but I believe we have laid a solid foundation for development, and we will see even more impact in the next five years, and development in a harmonious manner in all regions of the country . The country left no one behind.

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