By Ndey Sowe
The International Organization for Migration (IOM) on Monday, 4th October 2021, launched a diaspora mentorship program in coordination with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
The program is under the project dubbed: “Supporting Local and Economic Development in The Gambia (SLED),” established in November 2019 and funded by the Italian Agency for Development Cooperation.
The project seeks to equip national and local stakeholders with knowledge and understanding of the nexus between migration and development, thereby promoting sensitive migration policies. It is also aimed at improving youth employment services and job opportunities in local communities affected by irregular migration as well as facilitating diaspora engagement through skills transfer programmes.
Sulayman Omar Njie, Permanent Secretary 1 at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, said the Gambian diaspora has become increasingly critical and crucial in promoting sustainable development in The Gambia.
“I emphasized here and now that the role of the Gambian Diaspora in national development has won unprecedented recognition from my Ministry and it is fast becoming a worldwide phenomenon that the role of the diaspora is globally recognized as a development partner,” he said.
Njie said as a government, they believe in mobilizing, mainstreaming and maximizing diaspora expertise for sustainable development when it can bring added value. He added that the mentorship programme will place Gambian diaspora experts with technical capacity or expertise to certain key institutions in order to transfer skills to their mentees.
Musa Camara, Director for Gambia Diaspora and Migration Directorate at the Foreign Affairs Ministry, said the diaspora and migration directorate works closely with the ministry of interior and the office of the vice president to facilitate effective intergovernmental and inter-agency collaboration regarding the implementation of The Gambia’s Migration Policy.
Camara said the diaspora experts for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs is expected to enhance the skills and competencies of the staff of the diaspora directorate with the requisite tools to engage the Gambian diaspora and for the diaspora to gain the trust and confidence to have engagements back home.
Fumiko Nagano, IOM Chief of Mission, said the mentorship programme is part of a wider effort by the government of the Gambia with support from IOM to capture the developmental potential of migration.
She highlighted that four (4) diaspora experts have been identified for placement at three (3) key government ministries and agencies.
In September 2017, President Adama Barrow delivered a Diaspora Policy statement, which highlighted key commitments including the expansion, enhancement and optimization of the role of the diaspora in national development as valued partners.
Pursuant to this statement, the role of the Gambian diaspora was prominently prescribed in the NDP (2018-21) as the 3rd critical enabler.
The following institutions were identified for a roll-out of the diaspora mentorship program for a period of one month; Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ministry of Higher Education, Ministry of Youth and Sports/ National Youth Council, Ministry of Health and GEIPA.