Gambia: Mobile Phone Project Launched to Enhance Livelihood of Rural Women

By Momodou Jawo and Alieu Ceesay

Basse, Urr — A collaborative initiative dubbed 'Empowering Rural Women Mobile Phone Project' by the American Embassy in Banjul and the Forum for African Women Educationalists The Gambia (FAWEGAM) was recently launched in Nyakoi Taibatu village in the Wulli West District, Upper River Region (URR).

The two-year project, which is being piloted in Region Six, is targeting members of the mothers' club, women leaders and decision-makers inline with the objective of enhancing their livelihoods through mobile phone technology. The project will distribute 1000 mobile phones to the women in that part of the country, and this, the officials believe, will significantly enhance their socio-economic status and bridge communication gaps amongst them.

FAWEGAM is tasked with the overall responsibility of ensuring the successful implementation of the project through monitoring and evaluation of the project and its impact. In her launching statement, the deputy chief of mission at the American Embassy in The Gambia, Cindy Gregg harped on the importance of the project to the communities of URR, describing it as very meaningful.

While underscoring that women have a very significant role to play in achieving quality and relevant education in the country, Gregg indicated that the project in question is being supported by the US government in other African countries such as Mali and Malawi.

The US deputy chief of mission also used the moment to commend the efforts of Gambian women, whom she said are very hardworking. She pointed out that the project will go a long way in easing the challenges and constraints mothers' are faced with especially in disseminating messages among themselves. She explained that FAWEGAM being the implementing body will be sending messages to them about the weather condition and prices at the markets, amongst other issues critical for their awareness.

"Our aim among other things at the American Embassy is to complement the efforts of the government by participating in the development process of the country, and moreover in empowering Gambian women," she stated Cindy Gregg concluded by enjoining the beneficiaries to make best use of the opportunities accorded to them and to implement the project for it to achieve its intended purposes.

Also speaking at the occasion, the national coordinator of FAWEGAM, Yaddicon Njie-Eribo thanked the US Embassy in Banjul for funding such an important project. She informed that FAWEGAM is a non-political, voluntary, charitable and non-sectarian organisation, which brings together African women and individuals interested in girls' education and likeminded males.

According to her, the project will simply use mobile phones as the medium to communicate important messages to Gambian women living in rural communities. She explained that a special open source software called 'Freedom Fone' will be used to send and receive messages to and from government departments, including the Ministries of Health, Agriculture, Basic and Secondary Education respectively, non-governmental organisations, and other companies. She explained that the messages communicated to them will help keep them informed about necessary and interesting information.

The chairperson of FAWEGAM National Executive Committee, Kaddijatou Jallow-Baldeh, for her part, commended the US Embassy for its support to the education sector of the country. She also urged the mothers' club to remain steadfast given the fact that they have a vital role to play in the attainment of quality education in schools.

Speaking earlier, the principal education officer (PEO) of Region Six, Momodou Jallow, said suck kind of gesture will contribute immensely towards achieving quality education in schools as mothers' club plays a very important role in the education of the girl child.