The United States Embassy in Banjul Thursday approved the sum of D2, 825, 700 for its funded projects across the country at a grant signing ceremony held at the American Corner along Kairaba Avenue.
The fund is meant to boost some community self-help projects in a wide range of areas such as livelihood and skills training, rice and coos mills, environment regeneration, health, sanitation and education as well as four other democracy and human rights projects in notable ventures of women empowerment, youth leadership skill and some community empowerment, among others. The projects documents bear the signatures of the US ambassador alongside representatives from various project institutions.
Speaking at the occasion, Pamela Ann White, the US ambassador to The Gambia said that the signing shows the commitment of her Embassy and government to work with The Gambia on democracy, human rights and community development issues. "As a professional who spent my career working on the development issues in Africa, I can truly appreciate the impact the self-help projects will have on your local communities," she added.
She further stated that she had traveled throughout the country over a period of18 months visiting previous project sites. "Because of these projects, many women no longer have to spend hours of hard labour just to feed their families. They now have more time for other income generating activities enabling them to provide more food for their families," Ambassador White added.
She explained that the eight self-help projects are different from most development programmes because they are community-driven. She reminded project owners that each of them have agreed to contribute to the project either through land, labour or money.
Her words: "This signing ceremony marks the beginning of our partnership but we will need to continue working together to bring the projects to a successful finish."
Speaking on the importance of Democracy and Human Rights Fund (DHRF), the US ambassador explained that it provides financial assistance to small-scale activities that support democratic institutions aimed at promoting political pluralism and protect and advance human rights. She said: "The DHRF projects being signed today were chosen because we believe in your ability to achieve concrete results in a short amount of time."
On her part, Jainaba Nyang-Njie, a representative from TANGO said the projects seek to empower women, as they are vital in our contemporary communities, but remain marginalised.
Abdoulie Jawneh, a representative from the Gambia Disable Association said their project is meant to change the lives of people with disability in terms of skills, adding that disability does not mean inability.
Babu Camara, the president of the Kiang Jali Kambeng Kafo, also revealed that the project will help improve rice production in the area. He assured that the machines would be well maintained.