The African Risk Capacity (ARC) technical working group of The Gambia recently commenced a two-day workshop at a hotel in Bakau.
The forum was to review its contingency plan which is part of an annual process to ensure continual improvement of ARC’s modelling tool now used by the government to monitor drought throughout the season.
This operations plan shows how a potential ARC payout would be effectively channeled through existing programs and structures in The Gambia, to reach the most affected households in the event of severe drought.
Speaking on behalf of the permanent secretary at the Ministry of Environment, Climate Change and Natural Resources, Alhagie Manjang, the deputy permanent secretary at the said Ministry, gave a brief synopsis of ARC, stating that African Heads of State in 2012 passed a unanimous decision to establish the African Risk Capacity as a specialised agency of the African Union.
Manjang indicated that The Gambia Government has since been at the forefront in establishing this agency and operationalising it.
He opined that the country experienced poor rainfall in 2014 and Government was called upon to support those affected.
“Our neighbours in Senegal, Niger and Mauritania, who were also affected by the poor rainfall and were already part of ARC at the time, received USD $26 million, which enabled the governments of these countries to spearhead a response to their vulnerable populations ahead of any humanitarian aid.”Manjang added.
The Gambia Government he said, decided to take out insurance coverage from ARC in 2015, to protect its vulnerable people and to ensure that the development gains made in the agricultural sector are safeguarded as ‘we continue to grow in strength’.
His words: “For a small premium paid to ARC, the Government can receive quick disbursing financing in the event of poor rainfall, responding to households before it becomes a crisis. For this reason, again this year, the Government renewed its insurance policy with ARC.”
The Executive Director of the National Disaster Management Agency, Lt. Col Sanneh revealed that it is a requirement that the government review the plan and resubmit once every two years.
The first operation plan, he went on, was completed in 2015 and the ARC Agency Governing Board awarded The Gambia Government a certificate of good standing indicating that the operations plan submitted met strict standards and guidelines.
He however called on the working group to look into the document with care and make changes based on the current situation of the country.
Tuga Alaskary, the ARC Country Engagement Manager, commended The Gambia for its high spirit in working with the ARC, acknowledging that the country is a very important partner of the Agency.
by Saffiatou Colley