WFP Gives Computers to NDMA in Gambia


The World Food Programme (WFP) Friday donated computers and accessories to the National Disaster Management Agency (NDMA) at a handing over ceremony held at the Office of the Vice President at State House in Banjul.

The donated items, which include 8-Dell desktop computers, 7HP desktop LaserJet printers, 2HP scanjet scanners and 42-Tapaulins, are earmarked for the NDMA in case of disasters. They came at a time when the agency is getting prepared for any emergency cases during this year's rainy season.

Speaking at the ceremony, Essa Khan, the executive director of (NDMA) acknowledged that the WFP has been assisting his agency significantly especially in response to government's request to support and assist those affected during the 2009 flood disasters.

"WFP provided assistance through the United Nations Emergency Relief Fund with an amount of US$500,000 to provide food assistance to those in need as a result of the 2009 floods. These were targeted to families for a period of three months and the WFP worked with the NDMA to distribute these food items," he said.

He reminded the gathering that during that period, his agency was just beginning and they had the opportunity to test the regional structures that were already in place.He explained that at the end of the day, the overall distribution was successful, pointing out that the WFP and his agency since then came together to look at the lessons learnt during the distribution process."During that period we came up with significant recommendations and one such recommendation was how to improve the capabilities of our regional structures in terms of data collections and assessment," he disclosed, while emphasising that equipment was also mentioned as a key challenge and that today WFP has responded to that recommendation.

Khan described the donation as timely as it will enhance the work of their regional coordinators in collecting data and analysis for submission to the agency on time.He stressed that during the government retreat which was held in Kanilai, the Gambian leader clearly emphasised that data collection is a major concern for government while commending the WFP and other UN agencies for their gesture.For his part, Malcolm Robert Duthie, the WFP representative in The Gambia, gave a brief overview of the projects undertaken by the WFP in response to emergency relief efforts.

According to him, one of WFP's primary objectives globally is to help in strengthening governments and communities' capacities to address climate change, climate issues as well as prepare countries on how to effectively tackle these issues.

He emphasised that WFP is a UN humanitarian agency, whose primary mandate is to work with governments when it comes to responding to immediate needs in countries and that about 60% of their resources globally are given to emergency responses. "That is the nature of the work that we are doing at the moment and we have built up for many years now with quite a lot of experience and expertise in responding to these types of activities," he said, while stressing that they are also concerned about how to avoid such problems in the near future.

The WFP representative told officials that his agency made a very big effort to ensure that their staff works with the staff of the NDMA, especially during last year's flood disaster food distribution exercise, which he described as a very good partnership."We have also made a big effort during the exercise to look at where we could improve and I think we are using those lessons learnt from that exercise to even prepare for this year's rainy season. So it has been a very good partnership and one of our mandates globally is to work with governments as well as to support the people of those countries," he added.

He highlighted that another of his agency's objectives now is to see what they can do about building up resilience's of communities and countries to address these problems as they come, citing the recent devastating earthquake in Haiti, among a host of others as example.For her part, the vice president, Aja Dr Isatou Njie-Saidy, said the WFP has made great strides in this country and has complemented the efforts of the government in many areas, not just in the field of providing assistance during emergencies but even when the emergences have not happened.She hailed the WFP for expanding its school feeding programme in the country particularly to schools in the Greater Banjul Area, as well as other areas in the rural communities under government's request.