By Mustapha Jallow
The National Council for Civic Education (NCCE), on Wednesday October 30th concluded the training of Village and Ward Development Committees respectively in Essau in the North Bank Region (NBR), on the Local Government Act 2002 and the Role of Women in the decentralization process.
The training sessions were supported by United Nations Population Fund Agency (UNFPA), the Government of the Gambia and the National Youth Council. The training aims to increase the capacity and understanding of VDCs and WDCs on the 2002 Local Gov’t Act under the “peace building project.’’
More than 300 representatives of VDCs and WDCs across the four Regions of the country participated.
According to NCCE officials, the beneficiaries of the training are from Lower River, North Bank, Central and Upper River Regions.
Yusupha Bojang, Program Manager at NCCE said they want VDCs, WDCs to understand the 2002 Local Gov’t Act.
“We are not new here. We have been holding numerous meetings in Essau to ensure that they understand the Act. We also used to sensitize and educate communities across the country on their understanding of elections etc.,’’ Bojang said; that during the training, they realized that most of participants do not have much information on how VDCs or WDCs work; that this has caused issues such as lack of development and understanding especially amongst VDCs and Alkalos.
“The problems are too many in communities across the country and not only in Essau. If there are problems between VDCs and WDCs, then there will be no peace in that community and there will be difficulty for everyone,’’ Bojang said.
“This is why we decided to organise such trainings to educate each other on what is in our laws especially our local Government law. We are here to ensure that we meet with VDCs and WDCs to remind them of what is in the Local Gov’t Act,’’ Bojang said. Bojang concluded that the training will allow participants to understand what role they should play at their level in order to take the country forward.
Kebba Jallow, Coucilor for Essau Ward said his constituents will not allow politics to divide them even though they belong to different political parties. He assured the NCCE that whatever they gain from the training will be shared with their colleague members including village Alkalos.
He advised participants not to ‘sit on’ the information gained from the training but to share it with their constituents.
Bakary Juwara of the UNFPA said the role of VDCs and WDCs is important in society; that the reason why Government has built such structures is to ensure peace in the country; that without peace, Government and the people in general will not be able to carry out their normal functions.
Juwara said they have realized from the training that in some areas, Alkalos and VDCs have worked together. He said there are communities that have started developing structures, but due to misunderstanding, the work cannot be completed.
Abubacarr Sonko, a representative of the Chief of Lower Niumi and Councilor from Pakau Ward, made similar remarks. Other speakers expressed similar thoughts and concerns.