More than Four Hundred and Fifty people drawn from 20 communities across the West Coast Region (WCR), Upper River Region (URR) and Central River Region North (CRRN) have been sensitized on how to effectively prevent and address Grievances in the GIRAV project intervention areas in their respective communities.

The grassroots sensitization campaign is being jointly conducted by the project and the Regional Grievances Redress Committee in each of the 7 Agricultural regions of the Country targeting the 40 communities and local authorities where the 20 Women-led and 20 Youth-led modern Agribusiness firms (WYLAFs) will be established by the Project.

The nationwide outreach campaign kicked off on Wednesday 13th December 2023 with a day’s sensitization forum at the community of Chabai in Foni Bondali District, West Coast Region. 20 more communities across the Central River Region North (NBR), Lower River Region (LRR) and North Bank Region (NBR) where the project is set to established WYLAFs schemes will also be sensitized on GRM related issues before the end of March 2024.

The activity is specifically targeting members of the Women and Youth-led Agribusiness Firms being supported by the project, village heads, Village Development Committee (VDC) members, district chiefs and heads of schools through face-to-face meetings. The main objective is to introduce them to the Grievances Redress Mechanisms (GRM) and all the related Environmental and Social Safeguards Instruments developed by the project to guide the implementation of activities supported by the project. This activity is a follow up to the nationwide sensitization held in February 2023 targeting the regional Grievances Redress Committee members who are mainly members of the Technical Advisory Committees chaired by the regional Governors in each of the 7 Agricultural Regions of The Gambia.

Speaking at the various meetings, Mr. Fafanding Katiri Kinteh, Social Development Specialist of the GIRAV Project and the Central Projects Coordinating Unit (CPCU) of the Ministry of Agriculture emphasized the importance of the public sensitization campaign on GRM and its related issues for the successful implementation of project activities. He explained that the execution of the WYLAFs would include establishment of a chained –link perimeter fence for the 5 hectare garden to be equipped with a solar-powered irrigation system and a multi-purpose facility. He said: “The implementation of all these sub-projects would create employment for hundreds or thousands of people who will be based in the intervention sites and thus creating an environment that put women and children of the host communities at risk of Gender-Based Violence GBV) (including Sexual Exploitation Abuse (SEA), Sexual Harassment (SH) and Violence Against Children (VAC) which remain a global problem.

“To address this global problem, The World Bank in her investment projects put in measures to mitigate the problems of the GBV. Key among these measures is the preparation and validation of the Environment and Social Safeguards instruments (ESMF, RPF, LMP SEP ESCP, SEA/SH) to be used during project implementation. The project is committed to engage and sensitize its stakeholders including the beneficiary communities more especially the women and young girls who remain the most vulnerable group to GBV during project implementations. The project will provide a Toll-Free number for the general public to facilitate timely reporting of grievances to the relevant authorities for redress,” he added.

Mr. Mustapha Drammeh, Agriculture Director for West Coast Region who also doubles as the Chairman of the Regional Grievances Redress Committee speaking at Chabai and Duwasu, thanked the Government and the World Bank for the GIRAV project. He explained that the project through its seeds and fertilizer programmes as well as its support to strengthen the extension service of the Department of Agriculture is already impacting positively on lives and livelihoods.

He expressed optimism that the WYLAFs initiatives will further help build the resilience and improve the food security, nutrition and socio-economic status of the women and youths in the region and beyond.

Mrs. Adama Bojang, a member of the Regional Grievances Redress Committee who is also the Director of Planning, Brikama Area Council advised people to preserve, values and effectively utilize their traditional Grievances Redress Mechanisms. She also advised WYLAFs beneficiaries to develop and implement robust development sustainability plans to ensure the success of their agribusinesses.

For their part, the Alkalolu of Chabai, Bondali Santangba, Jagil and Duwasu messrs Kaaybuteh Sanyang, Momodou Colley, Modou Jasey and Yaya Nyassi respectively expressed gratitude to the Ministry of Agriculture and the GIRAV project for the gesture. They assured of their commitment to the successful implementation of the project. They however appeal for the implementation works on the WYLAFs to be expedited and for training on Good Agricultural Practices.