The Government of The Gambia and the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) yesterday signed the new Country Programme of Action Plan (CPAP) 2007-2011 document and the annual World Plans with the various implementing partners, at a ceremony held at the Conference room, Office of the Vice President at State House.
The CPAP is a new five years cooperation agreement for the sixth cycle of UNFPA assistance to the National Population Programme to the tune of US$5.5M, and signals the start of a new period of cooperation for the implementation of the new country programme which comprises three components namely; reproductive health, population and development and gender.
The implementation of the next five years programme will focus on maternal health, reproductive health information and service for young people and HIV prevention and on the collection and utilisation of gender disaggregated data for the development planning and poverty reduction. The new country programme will also support policy dialogue and advocacy on population, gender and reproductive health and will adopt a right-based approach to programming at the national and decentralised levels.
The new programme also reflects national priorities as outlined in the national vision 2020 document, PRSP, CEDAW and the African Charter on Human and People’s Rights.
Welcoming officials at the signing ceremony, Fatou Jassey-Kuyateh, Permanent Secretary, Office of the Vice President, said the CPAP document elaborates and refines the programme design and strategies outlined in the country programme document and also provides a detail description of the programme, its processes, the major results expected and the strategies for achieving those results.
She added that addressing population and development issues continue to occupy center stage in The Gambia’s development efforts. “The inextricable linkage between population dynamics and socio-economic development continues to be recognised. It is against this background that the government of the Gambia continues to be concerned about investment in human material and financial resources in addressing population and development issues, as well as maternal infant and child mortality, morbidity, gender and women empowerment and youth issues” she said.
She then expressed confident that this new country programme will further strengthen government’s stance on improving the quality and extending the availability of health services, achieving universal access to quality education with particular priority given to primary and technical education and also eliminating discrimination against the girl child and women. She thanked the UNFPA for the new programme.
Signing on behalf of the government of The Gambia, Ousman Jammeh, Secretary- General and Head of the Civil Service said the goal of the programme was to contribute to the improvement of the quality of life and standard of living of the Gambian population. He added that the programme implementation has significantly contributed to the Gambia’s progressive attainment of ICPD and MDG goals as demonstrated by the marked decline in maternal and infant mortality rates, as well as increase in the gross enrolment rate, especially for girls.
According to him, gender issues have also begun to be the mainstream in national policies, programmes and plans by government and its partners. He added that despite the various achievements, The Gambia still faces challenges of high population growth rate, rising levels of poverty and inadequacy of human and financial resources to address these challenges.
He described the CPAP sixth country programme as a tuning point as its derived from the Common Country Assessment (CCA) and the United Nations Development Assistance Framework (UNDAF) process. “ It also reflects Gambia’s priorities as outlined in vision 2020, the Poverty Reduction and Strategy Paper (PRSP), convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC), CEDAW and the African Charter on Human Rights,” he said.
SG Jammeh then recognised and appreciated the UNFPA’s increase of allocation to The Gambia from regular resources to US$5.5 Million from US$2.75 Million. He assured that the Gambia government, on its part, will continue to show political will in addressing population issues. He then thanked the UNFPA and assured that The Gambia will strive to make sure that the desired results are achieved during this phase of the programme implementation.
For her part, Mrs. Suzanne Maiga-Konate, UNFPA Country Director, said the new programme has been developed based on the Common Country Assessment (CCA) and the United Nations Development Assistance Framework (UNDAf) in The Gambia in conformity with the MDGs and national priorities reflected in Vision 2020.
According to her, the CPAP document provides the strategic direction of the programme for the next five years and is based on lessons learnt from the past cooperation and also on the common programming process undertaken jointly by the government and all UN agencies represented in The Gambia.
She noted that in the Gambian context, the exercise has been a participatory process that ensures the involvement of all stakeholders at each step. She reiterated that by working in and for this new programme, they are serving The Gambia in improving the welfare and standards of living of the population.
She then conveyed thanks to the technical teams of the civil services, NGOs and Civil societies that participated in the process of the preparation of the CPAP and look forward in working with them in the programme implementation.