Monday, September 5, 2011

TANGO’s Maiden Forum On Policy Dialogues

The Non Governmental Organisation (TANGO), on 23 August gathered a good number of government officials, Non Governmental Organisation (NGO) community, development partners, researchers, as well as students, among others to discuss on its maiden policy dialogues.
The event, held at TANGO conference hall in Fajara, on the theme, “Building the Capacity of NGOs for Effective and Evidenced-Based Development Intervention”, provides excellent platforms for learning and sharing information for the interest of development.
In his launching statement at the maiden dialogues, Chairperson, TANGO, Mr. Yankuba Dibba expressed profound gratitude to TANGO, saying he’s deeply honoured. He also thanked the TANGO management for this laudable initiative.

To  Dibba, the maiden dialogue is a major development contribution that, he expressed, seeks to further enhance the Gambia’s policy environment for the purpose of ensuring evidenced-based, results-oriented and an inclusive national development process. 
This, he went on, is underpinned by broad-based stakeholder consultation and engagement; and that it is evident that national development is conceived within a particular policy environment and frameworks.  
While the government, he said is the primary policy maker.
However, that there are numerous development players such as the Non-State institutions and organisations, as well as individuals, who also do not only operate within this national policy environment, but have important stakeholders in the development of public policy, noted Dibba.  
Therefore, to direct, harmonize and develop responsive national development policies geared towards transforming lives, he believes it is imperative that the processes of public policy making be inclusive, participatory and rely on quality and relevant data.
This approach, he noted, ensures that all stakeholders take ownership of not only the process, but also in the implementation and monitoring of the policy itself.
He informed the gathering that, the TANGO Policy Dialogues is initiated against the backdrop of major contributions made by members of the TANGO community.                                      
Since the emergence of the first NGOs in this country more than 40 years ago, and the creation of TANGO about three decades ago, NGOs in the Gambian soil have been providing development goods and services to individuals, communities as well as to the government, observed Dibba.
He acknowledged that the works of NGOs have also been recognised even by non-state actors in all sectors and regions of the country, he revealed.
He continued: “It is evident that NGOs have made tremendous contributions to the development and provision of basic social services in the areas of education, health, agriculture, social amenities and utilities amongst others.  
“There have been further contributions in terms of raising the awareness of the people about not only development issues, but also about how to earn knowledge and skills in order to enable individuals and communities build and ensure sustainable livelihoods.”                                                  
Such capacity building activities, he said, have also targeted public sector institutions and officials for the purpose of developing their skills and knowledge to enable them respond to new and emerging demands for the delivery of quality and efficient services to people living in The Gambia.
Dibba also held the view that the Policy Dialogues is a mechanism for not only engaging in policy review and monitoring, but also in leveraging their potential for peer-review, and the development and sharing of information and best practices.  
These, the TANGO Chairperson was hopeful, would also provide an opportunity for NGOs to highlight their challenges within the context of the policy environment, and map out ways to improve, promote and strengthen their participation in national development.  
Thus, the Policy Dialogues also offer the NGOs the unique opportunity to showcase their successes and achievements and proffer ideas for the way forward for The Gambia. Dibba humbly seized the opportunity to urge their partners, the government of The Gambia and all non-state actors to partake in and support the Policy Dialogues.  
He also told his audience that it is forty- six  (46) years after independence and there is ample evidence that The Gambia is still grappling with key development challenges despite the numerous gains that are being registered.  
He pointed out that poverty levels remain high amidst other disturbing indicators in the areas of maternal and infant mortality, HIV/AID prevalence and in hygiene and sanitation.  
The provision of quality, affordable and accessible social services such as education, health care and utilities, he held, also continue to add to these challenges.  
According to him, the efforts of the government and its development partners in the drive towards achieving national development objectives have been deliberately conceived to add value to efforts, by focusing on knowledge creation and dissemination as catalysts in their drive towards national development.
“It is our hope that through these dialogues, stakeholders will have the unique opportunity to access relevant and up-to-date data which are essential for planning and national development,’’ the Chairman Dibba optimistically stated. 
In conclusion, he registered the appreciation of the entire NGO community and the Board of Directors of TANGO to the African Capacity Building Foundation (ACBF) for proving the support to the important initiative.  
NGOs, he explained, have over the years, demonstrated their genuine desire and relevance as partners in development and, as he reassured, “we shall continue on that path”.  
On behalf of the NGO community in The Gambia, he solicited their  contribution, support and cooperation of  the government of the Gambia and their [NGOs’] development partners in their collective drive towards improving the quality of life of all persons living The Gambia.
Mr. Ousman Yabo, Executive Director, TANGO gave the welcoming remarks and the event was chaired by Madi Jobarteh Program Manager, TANGO.

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