By Halimatou Ceesay
The United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) and the Gambia Government through National Population Commission Secretariat (NPCS) and partners yesterday started an annual review and planning meeting at the Ocean Bay Hotel in Cape Point Bakau, with the aim to critically look at the processes, successes, constraints, opportunities, and lessons learnt from the 2017 implementation of the programme and use the results to plan for the 2018 programme.
According to Kunle Adeniyi Chief of Operation UNFPA Gambia Country Office the process is an annual process and the event is more programmatic. “We seek to review what we have done in the last 12 months to find ways of asking ourselves the challenges and opportunities that exist.”
“We should put our heads together and planned for the next program and I am hope that we will continually improve to see how we can deliver more to the people of the Gambia,” he said.
Adeniyi added that 2017 started with some reasonable challenges, not least the uncertainty in the political process in the country. “We thank God that we were able to come out of that and despite the challenges we were able to carry on with the program and carry on all the activities to the people of the country”, he explained.
He said he believed that in the course of the three days they are going to see what they did, how they did it, as well as to identity the opportunities and increase on them.
Adeniyi disclosed that UNFPA would launch a new strategic plan come January 2018. “In that strategic plan everything we do must be aligned to the strategic plan of the organization. It is an opportunity to narrow our efforts and do what we are supposed to do. Our work,” he added “is to improve universal access to Sexual Reproductive Health Rights, reduce maternal mortality globally, which we intend to address with women, adolescent girls and youth.”
Saikou JK Trawally, Director National Population Commission Secretariat, said “During the coming few days you will be busy taking stock of activities conducted with a view to critically look at the processes, successes, constraints, opportunities, and lessons learnt from the 2017 implementation of the programme.”
Trawally further stated that the results of the review would be used to better plan for the coming year. “This meeting will also serve as a forum to clear differences and misunderstandings among stakeholders of the programme on pertinent programming issues in order to smoothen the way to a successful programme implementation,” he said.
“As we make strides towards realizing the Gambian dreams of improving the quality of lives of all Gambians, striking a balance between population growth and socio-economic development still remains a concern for the government of the Gambia. In this regard, the 8th country programme seeks to contribute to support national efforts to harness a demographic dividend through investments in sexual and reproductive health, the elimination of gender-based violence that hinder the potential of adolescents and youth, especially girls and reduction in poverty in The Gambia,” he said.
He said despite the above achievements The Gambia is still faced with series of demographic challenges such as alarming population growth, rapid urbanization and environmental degradation. These and others, he warned constitute a major impediment to the national efforts towards achieving a higher quality of live for people.
He further stated that it is his hope that this review and planning meeting would come up with plans that will be geared towards effectively addressing the above demographic problems faced by the Gambia and help pave a path towards sustained and sustainable development in the Gambia.
“On behalf of the Government and people of The Gambia I would like to thank UNFPA for its assistance to The Gambia in the area of population, RH and Women empowerment We are indeed, deeply grateful to UNFPA for taking interest in addressing population and development problems in The Gambia,” he said.
He concluded that the Gambia Government on its part will continue to show political will in addressing population and development issues, and shall also continue to honour their commitment towards the successful implementation of the country programme.