Monday, January 24, 2011

Reports Suggest Rambo Was Threatened to Defect

Was Rambo threatened to Defect
The former national youth president of the main opposition-United Democratic Party, Ousman Jatta alias Rambo hasn’t after all defected to the ruling APRC party, by his free will, reports have it.
“If you cannot beat the system, then join the system,” as terse a statement as this was all what he said last week Saturday in Banjul, in what was seen as announcing a swap of his political leaning.
                                     Detained for 365 days

Born and bred in the coastal town of Bakau, very little was known about Ousman Rambo Jatta before his arrest and detention in 2006. According to reports Mr Jatta protested against a suspected misconduct in the presidential election in 2006.
He was arrested September 23, 2006 and released over a year later – October 13, 2007. During his one year in detention he wore the same (tattered) clothes for over five months and his shoes burst up. His release came after rigorous media campaigns and a subsequent legal battle mounted by his party leader Lawyer Ousainou Darboe.
                                
 Elected national youth president

 Currently, Mr Jatta is considered a strong political figure in Bakau. His victory in 2008 local government elections makes him the only opposition councilor in The Gambia’s second most populated local administrative region, KMC, and the only elected opposition politician in the whole of the Greater Banjul Area.
Last year, he was unanimously endorsed as the party’s national youth president at the party’s national congress held in the provincial capital of Jarra Soma, Lower River region.
                                                 Flared debate
Rambo’s defection has hit the headlines. It flared jubilation in the ruling party. “We are very much happy and we welcome Ousman Jatta to APRC. His defection is an indication that we have already swept the polls, due this year because he is a very influential person in the UDP,” said Yankuba Kolley, the ruling party national mobiliser.  According to pro-government Daily Observer newspaper, Rambo really has immense political clout in Bakau, and has a large following. Many of his supporters are likely to join him in the APRC.”
However, according to UDP party leader in the Point of last week Monday, Ousainou Darboe, it is absolutely incorrect to state that his defection will shake UDP. “Rambo is being described as a strongman, but the question is who made him strong? It was the electorate and the UDP party that gave him the political clout that he has,” Darboe said.
 This was buttressed by Rambo’s elder brother Dudu Kasa Jaata who is the head of the Jaata Kunda family of Bakau. “We remain loyal to UDP,” Kasa said. And the slogan some of the youths are using in Bakau in reaction to Rambo’s defection is “stagnant,” meaning they remain UDP.
                            
                          Rambo denies threats

Amid the debate, Rambo himself is yet to explain the reason for his sudden move. He has neither met with his former party executives nor has he tendered his resignation, The Daily News can confirm. 
Reports have it that Rambo was threatened to switch allegiance to the ruling party, but it is unclear what sort of threat.
“That is not a fact,” again another terse remark Rambo gave to The Daily News Saturday. He would not comment further but promises to call a press briefing. His wife, too, would not comment. None of the family members want to share with the public what Rambo told them. However an old woman, whose name we could not confirm hinted: “These people (certainly APRC) have been hounding him.” She refused to comment further after realizing that he was talking to a journalist.

Friday, January 21, 2011

United Democratic Party Bleeds: Kasa says it’s a Real Shock

 

Ousman Jaata alias Rambo defects
 The main opposition United Democratic Party (UDP) is bleeding profusely as its political Rambo also defects to the ruling APRC party.
“If you cannot beat the system, then join the system to do your contribution,” UDP’s national youth president, Ousman Jaata, alias Rambo declared Monday.
Rambo who is yet to explain the reason/s for his defection was speaking during the 4th anniversary of president Jammeh’s break through  programme held at the July 22nd Square in Banjul.
He is the only opposition councilor in The Gambia’s second most populous region Kanifing Municipal Council and the  only elected-opposition candidate in the whole of Greater Banjul Area. 

“Not a surprise”
Although, UDP is yet to make a statement, its spokesperson Shyngle Nyassi said he was not surprise because Rambo has been behaving strangely towards the party recently, an insider told The Daily News.
According to our insider, Rambo declined to join the party executive members who are touring the country on their outreach programme.


                                            Kasa says it’s a shock
His elder brother, Dudu Kasa Jaata, who groomed him into politics, said Rambo’s defection has caused a wakeful night in Bakau.
“None of our family members are aware of Rambo’s defection. And I don’t know why he moved to ARPC. He (Rambo) can better explain that,” Kasa told The Daily News yesterday.
He described Rambo’s defection as a big blow, betrayal, disappointment and shock to the entire Jaata Kunda family of Bakau, electorate, the party and the nation.
“He [Rambo] never disclosed it to anyone. It was a shock” he said.
                           ‘But Bakau remains UDP’

Dudu Kasa Jaata says Bakau remains loyal to UDP

“I am the campaign manager for UDP in Bakau. I know politics. I discipline and destroy,” Kasa said, noting that he and the Jaata Kunda family are still loyal to UDP.
“University of politics is in Bakau. We discussed a lot after the news of Rambo’s defection,” Kasa said. “There are lots of other people like Rambo in Bakau. Before him there were others. So, Bakau is like that. Whoever they support they die for him. And anyone they point at will win.”
A big catch for APRC
Rambo’s defection is one of series of defection being reported for the past few months.
Another strong youth activist for UDP, Kongira, also switched allegiance to the ruling party.
This follows several others reported by pro-government Daily Observer newspaper during Jammeh’s nationwide tour last year.
And an unnamed observer said Rambo’s defection is a big-catch for the ruling party.
Meanwhile, The Gambia’s political temperature is steadily rising as presidential election is due later this year.


British MPs Slams Justice Minister Gomez

British MPs have criticised The Gambia’s Justice Minister Edward Gomez, saying he should re-named Injustice Minister.
This development came hard on the heels Edward Gomez’s slamming on British MPs for calling on international pressure against The Gambia because of on-going human rights violations. Gomez also warned Gambians in abroad of backlash for smearing name of his government.
“The remarks are proof positive that the Justice Minister is riding roughshod over fundamental human rights. It’s my view that Edward Gomez should be renamed injustice minister,” alleged Anas Sarwar, the sponsor of the parliamentary motion signed by 27 British MPs recently.
Glasgow Central MP Anas Sarwar who sits in the International Development Select Committee at the parliament said, “Amnesty International produced a widely available report in 2008 which documents various human rights abuses in The Gambia including arbitrary arrests, torture, incommunicado detention, disappearances and murder.”
He added, “Indeed Alieu Ceesay who founded the Campaign for Human Rights in Gambia UK and many of his colleagues were forced to flee their homeland. I will continue to stand shoulder to shoulder with brave campaigners like Alieu who lead by example and fights for fundamental human rights.”
In another development the UK Minister for Africa Henry Bellingham have said that the coalition government will continue to raise concerns about freedom of expression and other human rights and good governance issues in the Gambia through the European Union and internationally.
“The Gambia has signed all major United Nations human rights conventions and we expect the Gambia to fulfill these obligations,” he said
Responding to a question recently from Labour MP for Glasgow North and shadow minister William Baine who asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what recent report he has received on the human rights situation and freedom of the press in the Gambia.
Minister Bellingham said “our High Commission in Banjul regularly raises human rights concerns with the government of The Gambia both bilaterally and also in its capacity as permanent local presidency of the European Union. Most recently the minister for Africa raises concerns with The Gambian minister of Foreign Affairs on September 14 2010 in London.”
He revealed that the UK government has set out its position at the EU/Gambia article 8 consultations held in June last year in Banjul and during The Gambia’s Universal Periodic Review sessions in UN in February last year.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

To Say My Government Did Nothing is Unfair – Former President

“We did what we could under the
circumstances,” Sir Dawda said,
 at last as he fires back at criticis
Kissykissymansa: Tuesday January 18: Ever since his return home from exile in 2002, The Gambia’s former President Sir Dawda K Jawara has kept a low profile at his residence in Fajara. But his ears are wide open to raging criticisms against him and his government by his ousters and their supporters.
Whether it was part of a condition attached to his return home or he was not given a platform, Sir Dawda never responded to these expressions of simmering discontent that have become a music every Gambian must listen to, like it or not. At last, he fires back!
“To say my government hasn’t done any development is unreasonable,” finally, a reply from The Gambia’s founding father.

"Founding father"

Born in 1924 in Barajally Tenda village, some 150 miles from the capital Banjul, Sir Dawda Kairaba Jawara, was the sixth son of a well-to-do businessman Almami Jawara and the last son of his mother, Mama Fatty.
Thanks to his father’s trader friend, Jawara, at the age of eight, came to the colonial capital, Bathurst (now Banjul) to acquire formal education.  He attended Muhammadan Primary school and Methodist Boys High School before leaving for Ghana and UK respectively to study veterinary medicine.
He returned home in 1953, and served as principal veterinary officer. He gave-up the position to accept an offer to lead a political party. And in the first nation-wide election, when the suffrage was extended to the provinces, his party, (then Protectorate People’s Party), Progressive People’s Party (PPP), won the largest number of seat in parliament. He was appointed education minster and then chief minister. He led The Gambia to independence in 1965, republican in 1970.
He ruled the country for over thirty years before his tenure was brought to an illegitimate, abrupt end by five junior soldiers who now peeled-off their skin to fit among the civilian cohort.

                       "first interview with independent press"

Jawara, now 87 years-old, last week granted an exclusive interview, for the first time since his return home from exile, to journalists from private-independent press, led by a veteran journalist, Swaebou Conateh, the editor/publisher of The Gambia News & Report Weekly magazine.
The interview was to sound his opinion on his award as “Person of the Year 2010” which is an annual award the magazine confers on people who have contributed to the development of the country. Jawara was the twentieth winner. Previous winners range from business persons, a human rights activist, and politicians, among others.

Kairaba, the book
                        The coup was a surprise

When asked about his take on the seemingly ceaseless allegations of rampant corruption in his government, which infact necessitated the coup, Jawara said that is not enough a justification for the coup.
“If you go back to your archives,” said Jawara, who has been globally acclaimed a democrat and a respecter of human rights, but which unfortunately is a travesty under his successor. “All the coups in the world, especially in Africa – whether military against civilian government or military against a military government – are done because there was corruption. But when they come to power they become much more corrupt than the government they overthrew.”
According to him, the 1994 coup came as a surprise to him. But how surprise could he be? For in his celebrated autobiography, “Kairaba,” published last year, he admitted noticing abnormalities upon his return from an overseas trip on the eve of the coup - Thursday 21st July 1994.
As he explained: “On our arrival at Banjul International Airport on 21 July 1994, I caught myself having to piece together a chain of strange events unfolding right before my eyes.
“To begin with, the Vice President and Minister of Defense, Saihou Sabally was not there to receive me. Instead, I was received at the foot of the aircraft by Attorney General and Minister for Justice, Assan Jallow.
“Under the shrill notes of the bugles Hassan walked me to the waiting guard of honour. In all my years of arrival and departure, I had never seen a more excited honour guard commander in action – Captain Sonko clearly appeared nervous.
“I learnt much later that there had been some tension at the airport before our flight landed. The Nigerian Army officer had given instructions to disarm a group of junior officers of The Gambia National Army because it was unusual for them to be armed on official airport welcoming duties.
“Upon alighting from the vehicle at State House, I discovered that Hassan Jallow who had received me officially at the airport was not there. I learnt that he had broken off the motorcade and gone home.”
He explained further: “Tired as I was, the question that kept me awake for a while before I could sleep was the absence of the vice president and the failure of the Attorney General to come for the debriefing at State House.”
According to him, on the following day, Friday 22 July 1994, National Security Service Director Kebba Ceesay and the National Security Adviser arrived in his private quarters at 9:15 am to brief him about rumours of the coup.
“At about 9:40 am my Aide de Camp, Captain Kassama burst in upstairs looking agitated. He urged me leave for the US warship. It was the first time that I heard anything of a warship in our ports. Captain Kassama was beside himself and was insisting that there was a coup taking place and the soldiers were approaching Banjul,” he explained in his book.
The presidential guard was clearly outnumbered and outgunned by the attackers, Jawara wrote. “It would have been suicide not to surrender or relocate.”
That was how the Jawara was forced to leave the country he founded. Alongside his family, and some cabinet ministers, he assailed to the neighboring country, Senegal where he was offered asylum. And on August 27, 1994, he proceeded to his former colonial master, Britain. 
His departure from The Gambia saw the beginning of what could be described as a witch-hunt, but in the name of commissions of inquiry against his officials. Their assets were freezed and confiscated, some detained.
Jawara’s return home following an amnesty does nothing to abate the mounting criticisms against him and his government, by the current government and its supporters, who are claiming lifting The Gambia from nothing to something deemed unimaginable.  

                                           responds to accusations

And until today, Jawara’s government stands accused of not only corruption, but failed to develop the country. These accusations, according to Jawara, are unfair. 
 “We did what we could under the circumstances,” Sir Dawda said. “We were making a steady progress. [Critiques] keep on saying we could not even provide a television. Yes, we don’t provide a TV therefore what!”
“TV was not our priority at the time. It would come as others. We were not having independence, a national flag. We built Central Bank, construct roads, spread education and built hospitals across the country. We had our own currency which was viable while bigger countries could not have a national currency.”
According to him, national development is never completed at any stage and independent minded people will judge him right.
Commenting on the award, Jawara said, he was overwhelmed when the news was broke-out to him. “Like I said, I was inundated with telephone calls. I thank News and Report for selecting me ‘Person of the Year 2010’. It is an honour.”

Monday, January 17, 2011

Public Condemns Closure of Taranga FM


www.dailynews.gm:
Right t to information should not be suppressed,” is the view of many people who spoke to The Daily News, denouncing the temporal closure of Taranga FM, a privately-owned community radio station in Sinchu Alagie.
In what is highly suspected to be an order from the National Intelligence Agency, Taranga FM, has temporarily closed-down operations last Thursday. 
For five solid days, people who tune to Taranga for news have been living in the dark.
According to one Lamin Sarr a local businessman, Taranga is the only private radio station that broadcast local news both in English and local languages. He said Taranga is a vital tunnel of information that most of the uneducated people rely on for information.
“The news they air is factual and is reliable. The right to information should not be stifled. They are not criminals, but informers and we all have the right to know what is going on in this country as responsible citizens,” he said.
“Taranga FM has never criticized the government or involved in any political activities. They read news published in the local newspapers and they quote their source clearly. So why not the newspapers”, Omar Ndow, a carpenter told The Daily News. 
For Almamy Jagana who is also a businessman residing in Dippa kunda, The Gambia is sinking in terms of press freedom and the right to information. “We are sinking deeper because the authorities are trying to muzzle people’s right to information. The coming of Taranga FM, broadcasting in the local languages was a great move and people in the Kombos really appreciate it, because not everyone can read or have access to the newspapers. The authorities should prioritize the interest of its people and resurrect the station as soon as possible”.
“I’m surprise that the authorities had to [allegedly] close down the radio’s transmission after all the numerous broadcasts that speak positive of government.  I really condemn the temporary closure. An illiterate person like me can only know what is happening through the electronic media, which Taranga FM has been doing for the past few months. Infact they are the only private radio that airs news in local languages,” said Jagana
He went on: “Though I notice one thing recently, the radio tends to make positive focus more on the government activities-president Jammeh and his ruling party which is the only fault I observed”.
However, he said, the radio failed to broadcast on the opposition activities. I think they are bias because their stories are always one sided nowadays. The voice of the opposition should also be heard for balance hearing. In the past few weeks, I saw the opposition pictures in most of the private newspapers but the radio failed to report on it and still I don’t know what all was about, because I cannot read”.
According to Mohammed Jallow, a shopkeeper it is not a surprise to him that the radio station is shut. The temporary closure of a radio station, which the public benefits from is just ignorant. It seems we are going backward in terms of right to information”

Maimuna Drammeh of London Corner there is no reason for closing the radio as they only read from the local newspapers, if there are any body to suffer it should have been the papers and not the radio. She called for the immediate re-opening of the radio. It is the responsibility of the state to enlighten people, so Taranga is only supplementing.
Modou Bojang a native of Bakau, asked that people be told why Taranga is closed as no reasons are advance so far. The state owes it to the people to explain why. The society should not suffer for nothing. Gambians have suffered enough after the closure of Citizen FM.
Meanwhile, Mr Ismaila Sisay, the proprietor of the radio is unavailable for comments at the time of going to press. However, a reliable source said Mr Sisay yesterday spent a couple of hours at NIA headquarters in Banjul for questioning.
In this media-freedom restricted country, Taranga is the only private radio station that broadcast local news – both in English and local languages - to its audience, something the public seemingly appreciate.
The radio’s regular news programme of reading news published in the local newspapers has attracted growing interest from the public as it serve as the alternative source of news to the state-owned radio, especially for The Gambia’s majority conventionally unlettered people.
Since Taranga started the news programme couple of months ago, there was mounting speculation about the authorities unhappiness about the programme. Its closure may not come as a surprise to many; for Citizen FM that undertook similar programme has been closed-down.

Justice Minister Denies Issuing Threat

The Gambia’s Justice Minister Edward Gomez has denied issuing a threat to Gambians abroad engaging in tarnishing the image of the country.
“I did not threaten anybody,” Minister Gomez, who called our office, has said on Wednesday.
Gomez was reacting to a story published Monday, which cited him as warning Gambians abroad engaged in painting a grim picture about The Gambia’s human rights record will face a possible backlash when they come to The Gambia. 
But Gomez slammed the report as complete nonsense, demanding an apology from this paper. He also complained about the paper’s Wednesday editorial, which reminded him of scores of unsettled human rights violations.
“My government sees the media as a partner in development. I have nothing to hide. But newspapers should not express their sentiments, but facts,” he said.
According to him, what was published on the paper was not the substance of the interview he had with the reporter; for he was condemning the actions of 24 British MPs who called for an international pressure on The Gambia government for rights violations. 
“I told your reporter that the 24 British MPs in question never visited the country,” he said, adding that the MPs should be concerned about the rights violations perpetuated by the British government, particularly in Iraq, rather than The Gambia.

Taranga FM Goes Off Air Following Suspected NIA Order

Mr Sisay
In what is highly suspected to be an order from the National Intelligence Agency, Taranga FM, a privately-owned community radio station has temporarily closed-down operations.
Mr Ismaila Sisay, the proprietor of the radio is unavailable for comments at the time of going to press. However, a reliable source said Mr Sisay yesterday spent a couple of hours at NIA headquarters in Banjul for questioning.
In this media-freedom restricted country, Taranga is the only private radio station that broadcast local news – both in English and local languages - to its audience, something the public seemingly appreciate.
The radio’s regular news programme of reading news published in the local newspapers has attracted growing interest from the public as it serve as the alternative source of news to the state-owned radio, especially for The Gambia’s majority conventionally unlettered people.
The Daily News is yet to confirm the reason/s for the alleged NIA closure order, but it is believed to be in connection with the radio’s news programme.
Meanwhile, since Taranga started the news programme couple of months ago, there was mounting speculation about the authorities unhappiness about the programme. Its closure may not come as a surprise to many; for Citizen FM that undertook similar programme has been closed-down.

Friday, January 7, 2011

Senegal-Gambia Committed to Pledges Despite Mêlée

The sisterly neighboring republics of Senegal and The Gambia promised to move ahead with plans to revive the Senegalo-Gambian Permanent Secretariat, despite a recent melee.
According to a communiqué released at the end of Gambia’s foreign minister Momodou Tangara’s day long working visit to Senegal at the invitation of his Senegalese counterpart, Madicke Niang, both countries pledge to make every effort towards the establishment of the secretariat by end of February 2011,".
Divided by colonial legacy – the borders and official languages - Senegal and The Gambia share the same cultural values, but their relation has been marred with accusations and counter-accusations of being a threat to each other’s peace.
At independence the two countries set-up a permanent secretariat to coordinate their bilateral engagements. This was however scrapped following the formation of a confederation in 1982. This new dispensation was short-lived.
The promise to revive the secretariat was among a series of commitments both nations made last year when President Wade undertook a two-day working visit to The Gambia.
However, the seizure of the alleged Gambia-bound controversial arms shipment in Nigeria from Iran have sent shock waves across the globe, resulting to the apparent thawing of ties once again between the two countries.
Reacting to mounting allegations in Senegal linking The Gambia to the arms shipment, Gambian authorities accused President Wade of engaging in a smear campaign against The Gambia, branding him enemy.
And according to the communiqué, Gambian foreign minister Tangara, during his visit, was also received in audience by President Abdoulaye Wade to convey a special message from President Jammeh, but details of the special message are yet to be unveiled.
Meanwhile Wade’s ‘successful’ last year visit also produced the establishment of a Joint Ministerial Commission and Joint Border Committee.
And during the recent meeting, the foreign ministers of both countries expressed satisfaction at the progress being made so far and pledged to pursue efforts aimed at accelerating the implementation of the recommendations of the 5th Joint Ministerial Commission, especially those relating to the establishment of a network of Senegalese and Gambian women entrepreneurs and experience sharing in the areas of hydrocarbons, domestic fuel and renewable energies.
"The two sides also decided to cooperate and work on initiating joint projects in all areas, especially: In the area of Health – to promote experience sharing in the form of twinning, particularly in the health districts located in border areas; Electrification of cross-border areas by power companies and rural electrification agencies of both countries, based on existing funding opportunities at ECOWAS; and Education- With respect to the Consultative Commission, the two Ministers reiterated their commitment to making this institution, a forum for dialogue and consultation to monitor, in the interest of both countries, issues related to their economic and social development," the communiqué states.

AFTER THE FLOODS

But with all the millions worth of valuable items disbursed to help the disaster victims, coupled with years of devising strategies, Amie’s priority has been misplaced." Kissykissymansa reports on the flood-hit families who are struggling to rebuild their lives…

Amie Manneh and her nucleus family were living quiet comfy and secure in a single bedroom and a parlor in Bundung, until on September 9, when a heavy downpour of rain ruined their house.
Four three months on, Amie, her husband and six children, including less-than a year-old baby have been living in this naked house.
"All of us sleep here. Me, my husband and our six children," she said, pointing at 3×3 square metre room, part of which is severely cracked susceptible to not only rays of sun, but rats invasion.
The Gambia has experienced heavy rains throughout July, August, and September 2010, causing extensive flooding, which resulted in loss of lives, crops and livelihoods, as well as large scale damage to infrastructure and household property.
In the rural-Upper River region of The Gambia, eighty percent of swamp rice fields in over seventeen villages and 160 households, have been destroyed by floods, according to Mawdo Jallow, the regional disaster management coordinator of the area.
"We were expecting a good harvest this year because there was enough rain, but crops our crops were destroyed by floods," decried the village head of Chamoi Bunda village. "Forty hectares of my village’s communal rice field as well as host of individual and family farms were all lost to the floods."
Added to the destruction of farms in the village of Bantunding in Wuli, Upper River region, the floods sparked crocodile infestation and the village head said he had advised villagers to abandon their farms.
But farmers in the rural-Upper River region aren’t alone without harvest this year, as similar situation was obtained in the rural-Lower River region where farmers have their crops washed-away by the heavy downpour.
"We have no hope this year as far as harvesting is concern," said Pierre Bah, district head of Niani, "after all the hard work, everything has come to zero."
"We are not receiving any monthly salary neither are we entitled to any allowance of some sort. Our farms are our source survival. It is our last hope," also decried Mamanding Suwaneh, 67, the village head of Wassu where over 300 hectares of rice field was is consumed by flood waters.
According to the executive director of the National Disaster Management Agency (NDMA), Essa Khan over 34, 000 out of the country’s human population of 1.5 million have been affected by this year’s floods.
Although he declined to give a break-down of the impact pending the approval of the vice president of The Gambia, the latest country assessment conducted by the national disaster body, in collaboration with partners, including Red Cross, reveals that as at end September, 12 human lives were lost, including a teenage girl, who was on her way from school when she was washed-away into a gutter by the floods.
"Over 6, 000 people have been displaced, who have sought refuge in neighboring houses, schools and community structures," the report states. A high proportion being extremely poor, the displaced population, comprising women and children have critical food and non-food needs. Water, hygiene and sanitation have become a major concern to the concerned communities.
Assessment report further indicates that there has been 87 diarrhea cases, 57 fever cases, as at 15 September.
Significant lost of livelihoods have been reported particularly for small traders and farmers whose goods have been destroyed or damaged and farms submerged.
The Government declared a state of national disaster, September 7, and launched an appeal both at national level and abroad for additional relief and rehabilitation efforts.
This has opened the flood-gate of assistance as millions worth of food and non-food items have been delivered to national disaster body. The donors range from, public, private institutions to individual citizens living in the country and abroad.
The government has not been left behind as the president himself has donated over D15 million worth of food items to the victims, through various local government authorities.
And since Amie’s line local authority is Kanifing Municipal Council (KMC), she was directed by the councilor in her area to seek for assistance at the council.
"I went to KMC," she says, "and I was given 3 bags of rice, 10 litre gallon of [cooking] oil, and 5 kilo of sugar."
However, this gesture has done little to help Amie and her family out of their predicament. "I already had bags of rice before my house fell-down," she says, "What I need is cement and sand or help of any kind to re-construct my house."
Infact a week before Amie’s house was ravaged, an outspoken parliamentarian Sidia Jatta has highlighted that the magnitude of this year’s floods exceed the capacity of the victims to cope using their own resources.
"In my view, giving food items is a good gesture but it does not necessarily amount to substantive relief granted to disaster victims," Sidia Says, "what constitutes substantive relief is to return the victim to be as close to his/her financial or material wellbeing prior to the disaster. Those who lost horses should be able to get horses back. Those whose buildings collapsed should be able to get shelter in return."
However, according to Essa Khan, the Gambia is achieving success in its disaster management strategies every year. "We are in a transition from managing the crises to managing the risk," he said. "We have decentralised our activities. Each of the administrative regions now has regional disaster coordinators headed by the traditional chiefs, who carry on the activities of building community resilience," he added.
According to Khan, plans are underway to transform the existing Village Development Committee to the Disaster Management Coordinators at village level, but he acknowledges that it requires money.
He further added that relief is not sustainable, hence The Gambia is also implementing the Africa Regional Strategy for Disaster Risk Reduction, which requires AU member states to increase political commitment to disaster risk reduction, improve identification and assessment of disaster risk, increase public awareness of disaster risk reduction, improve governance and integrate disaster risk reduction in emergency management.
"We noticed that some of the people are settling in areas that are prone to floods. We can’t drastically evict them but we will step up advocacy campaigns."
But with all the millions’ worth of valuable items disbursed to help the disaster victims, coupled with years of devising strategies, Amie’s priority has been misplaced.
She says she is desperate for a home for her family. What she and her family need is a roof over their head. Her carpenter husband is finding it difficult to cope with the daily upkeeping of the family’s needs because he is unable to win contracts. "My husband has not been working for a while; otherwise I would not have been seeking assistance," bemoaned Amie.