A delegation from TNT, a global express logistics and mail company, recently came to The Gambia on a working visit to strengthen its partnership with the World Food Programme (WFP) The Gambia.
TNT has been one of WFP The Gambia's leading partners in fund and awareness raising and had raised $617,690 for WFP in 2009 alone. Since the launching of the WFP/TNT partnership in The Gambia in 2003, TNT has played a key role in raising funds to feed school children in rural Gambia, from the Fonis of Western Division to the Upper River Region. Through WFP's School Feeding Programme (SFP) over 115,000 children in 463 schools have benefitted from these funds. In total TNT has been responsible for 58% of the contributions that WFP The Gambia received in 2009.
TNT also plays a key role in supporting schools' essential learning package by constructing and rehabilitating school facilities. From 2003 to date TNT's efforts have been instrumental in the construction and rehabilitation of 34 school kitchens and stores and 30 latrines. There are presently plans to construct 3 kitchens with store and 2 latrines in schools in Western Region and Upper River Region.
During their visit the TNT delegates met the minister of Basic and Secondary Education, Fatou Lamin Faye, who acknowledged the significance of the SFP in boosting enrolment, attendance and retention rates in rural schools. Minister Faye expressed appreciation on behalf of the country and the Gambian children for TNT's contributions to The Gambia's education sector. The Basic and Secondary Education Minister mentioned that currently the overall school enrolment is 91% and indicated that her office is working towards taking over responsibilities of the SFP in the future.
The TNT delegates also embarked on an exciting field trip to WFP/TNT assisted schools in Western, Lower River and Upper River Regions. They visited Jarkoi Sibrik Lower Basic School and Suduwol Basic Cycle School where their sponsored project; the digging of a 6-pit latrine and a kitchen with store has already started. The highlights of the trip was a visit to Darsilameh LBS in Lower River Region, where the inauguration of a classroom block, 6-pit latrine, kitchen, store and water pump, all built by TNT volunteer took place.
The WFP/TNT partnership is a perfect example of private/public collaboration in development. The TNT delegation's visit offered the donors an excellent opportunity to familiarise themselves with the school feeding programme and to raise awareness on the project's current funding gap. For their part, the delegates committed themselves to being active ambassadors in mobilising the resources most needed for the SFP in their own home countries in the forthcoming year.