Saturday, June 21, 2014

Jammeh determined to scuttle EU-financed projects

Following the fall-out from the 17-points demand by the European Union and The Gambia government that resulted in the EU taking over implementation of specific food security, including village gardening projects designed to supplement the school feed projects, every effort has been made by the EU to continue some development assistance to the Gambia to avoid depriving the general population pf vital aid.

The MDG 1c project was an offshoot of the 2000 United Nations MDG that set targets for member states to achieve by 2015 in various sectors, including agriculture.

In 2010, ten years into the MDG, it was realized that the agriculture sector goals would not be met despite Jammeh's claim that Gambia was on target to achieving many of its MDG goals.  Gambia's own National Agricultural Investment Program (GNAIP) has confirmed that the current level of agricultural productivity is woefully inadequate to address the acute food security and poverty issues facing the country.

Gambia human rights abuses reached a crescendo in January 2013 with the 17-points demands by the EU to the regime of Jammeh were issued which included European demands for a more open society through free media access to the upholding of moratorium on the death penalty.  Jammeh's refusal to give in on the EU's demands is still real, even though he has agreed to a few of the demands.

Jammeh's reaction to the EU's 17- point demands was that his government was not going to give in on any of the demands.  He addressed his cabinet following the EU Article 8 Dialogue in 2013 during which he quoted as saying "I will compromise with evil. I will not compromise with anything that will question our independence, and I will not compromise with any institution that thinks that we are not fit to rule our country, more matter what they think they have."  This was part of his now famous or infamous "chicken change"speech when he ridiculed the small size, in Jammeh's own world, of the EU's development package, universally recognized as the single biggest aid package in Gambia's portfolio.

To allow for the continuation of the EU program while they dialogue with Gambia on the deplorable state of the human condition, an agreement was reached and a document signed in 2013 that will allow the EU to channel financial resources to the FAO and WFP to implement its food security projects.  Gambian project staff were hired by these UN agencies to implement the MDG 1c project in three regions of the country where the most vulnerable communities are located.  In 2013, the projects were implemented by the same arrangement without any known or reported issues.  However, in 2014, the story is different.

Jammeh revealed his displeasure with how things are going within his government during this week's cabinet retreat in his home village where, during his opening remarks, he warned agriculture sector workers in particular about the level of corruption, project implementation rates etc.  He threatened massive dismissals and the jailing of those found wanting.  He gave them until December to shape up or ship out.  In less than two days after his warning, he pounced on Gambian project managers and staff hired, not by government but by the specialized United Nations Agencies contracted by the European Union to implement the MDG 1c project that it created and financed to help countries lagging behind in achieving their MDG goals.

The number of project staff under arrests is still unknown, except the two i,e. Mrs. Amie Jallow-Jatta who was identified in previous news items as Project Manager of the EU-financed FSCA and Ms. Kujey Manneh who, we have come to learn, worked at one point to Action Aid.   It is evident that Jammeh views these Gambians as independent and outside the sphere of his influence, managing a € 7.6 million project. They have successfully implemented a similar-sized project last year and Jammeh has vowed to interrupt this year's program unless he has a piece of the action.  This is story has some of the elements of a previous case involving Gamcotrap and Yolocamba, the Spanish NGO that was dragged unawares by Jammeh's NIA operatives into a scheme to discredit the management of Gamcotrap.