This Column is meant to monitor and report on issues that concern the people of the rural area in terms of how they are facilitating or hindering their development. In this edition, we shall bring to the attention of our readers an interview with the Executive Officer of the Rural Development Organisation, Mr. Jamu Ceesay, on the aims and objectives, as well as the impact of his organisation on the life of the rural people. However, it is significant to inform readers that rural development experts have argued that in order to broaden the opportunities for rural poverty reduction and economic growth, there is need for a broader approach to rural growth and emphasis on the larger rural non-farm economy. They went further to state that a focus on these two areas: smallholder agriculture and the rural non-farm economy, requires particular attention and increasing investment in four issues namely:
Improving the overall environment of rural areas to make them places where people can find greater opportunities and face fewer risks, and where rural youth can build a future. To do this, Rural Development experts argue that greater investment and attention are needed in infrastructure and utilities particularly roads, electricity, water supply and renewable energy.
Columnist: Can you introduce yourself to our readers?
Jamu Ceesay: My names are Jamu Ceesay. I am the Chief Executive Officer of Rural Development Organization.
Columnist: Can you tell our readers what Rural Development Organization is all about?
Jamu Ceesay: Rural Development Organization is a community based organisation which is geared towards the empowerment of rural women and youth. The organisation started in 2010 as a foundation but today it is a community based organisation with its office in Farafenni, Illiassa District, North Bank Region.
Columnist: How does your organisation impact on the life of the rural people as a rural development organisation?
Jamu Ceesay: The organisation impacts on the life of the rural people through its interventions and that the organisation intervenes in providing clean water and income generating opportunities to the women and youth in our intervention areas. And as I speak to you, the organisation has intervened in three places namely Dutabulu village, Chamen village and Jumansaraba village.
For example, in Chamen the organisation has dug a borehole that provides the community with clean drinking water, fenced a garden with water facility in it, a sheep fattening facility and a battery charging house powered by a solar system.
The organisation provided all these to empower the women and youth of chamen by enhancing their income and thereby impacted on their lives.
Columnist: What about the community of Jumansaraba, how does your organisation impact on their lives?
Jamu Ceesay: Well for the community of Jumansaraba, they had a community water project at a tune of 2.5 million dalasi and in that 6 stand pumps were erected at various strategic positions around the village. It also has 18 concrete wells in a 6 hectare fenced village garden where more than 400 women and youth can work and earn their livelihoods. And again, in Jumansaraba, there will be private taps in 24 compounds which are geared towards sustaining the project as those private tap owners will be paying their bills to the water committee which they will use to defray the maintenance cost.
Columnist: What about the community of Dutabulu, how does your organisation impact on their lives?
Jamu Ceesay: In Dutabulu, the organisation dug a borehole that provides the community with clean drinking water, fenced a garden with water facility in it as well as animal watering point in which all their cattle, donkeys and other small ruminants do go and drink on a daily basis and the water is pumped by a solar power system.
Columnist: You are doing a great job which requires a lot of funds. How does your organisation get funding?
Jamu Ceesay: Our main donor in this great job is the Stiftung Sabab Lou, a German Charitable Foundation. This Charitable Foundation has it as their principle that rural people must work, enhance income and reduce poverty. Based on these principles, they are helping the rural people through the rural development organisation and we thank them for that.
Columnist: Well, it is one thing to boost the production capacity of the rural women and youth, but another to market their produce. How is your organisation doing in terms of marketing the garden produce?
Jamu Ceesay: The organisation is working towards that but I must say that the marketing of the produce is not an individual enterprise but a collective one. Our organisation, the Government, Non-governmental Organisations, Media etc all have a role to play and I hope that when all hands are on deck, there will be market for the produce of our of people.
Columnist: Thanks for giving your time.
Jamu Cessay: It's my pleasure.