Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Dictatorship Is Incompatible With Free Expression

Mr Cue
Lookout for more…

Ø  Unplanned settlement, poor drainage system, the main causes of flooding in Kanifing Municipality
Ø  CDS Kinteh says good communications safe lives sometimes
Ø  Make hay while the sun shines, President Jammeh tells Gambian youths
Ø  Greenie Environmental Education project gauges feedback
Ø  Gambian to host Youth Crime Watch’s West Africa Office
Ø  NEA nurturing the young to take ownership of the environment  



  Dictatorship is impossible when there is freedom of expression
A United States Paris-based veteran journalist has said dictatorship is certainly impossible where there is freedom of expression; this is simply because dictatorship is incompatible with freedom of expression.
“It simply cannot happen, it is impossible to talk of democracy without talking about freedom of speech,” Mr Eduardo Cue said at the beginning of a week-long intensive training for Gambian journalists on the “role of journalism in democracy, ethic and writing skills”.
The training, held at the American Corner along Kairaba Avenue, brought together 20 journalists from the print media and was organized by the American Embassy in Banjul.
It is being held on two phases, with eight journalists from the electronic media ending theirs on July 28, 2011.
Prior to his lectures, Mr Cue noted that democracy is impossible without freedom of expression, speech in all forms, including the right to speech, write and association.
He described freedom of expression as “an element of other things that people enjoy” in a country, a philosophical concept, and a gift for every citizen.
According to him, it forms part of the right to assemble with others, forming associations, unions, and groups, among other things.
Having been to 29 African countries, Mr Cue described the continent as important, noting that he is very much aware of the extremely difficult conditions under which African journalists operate.
The fundamental role of a journalist is to give the tools to the people to make decisions and these tools are of information, the right to know what is going on in their countries, neighborhood, region, and the world, he said.
“Freedom of the press can boost the economic development of a country,” he adds, however, he stressed that the role of journalists is to write on issues affecting society. “This is to call the attention of the government to play its role in solving the problems facing its citizens.”
He stated that in a democratic country, an independent judiciary is vital, while noting that a journalist has to be independent in order to do his work effectively. However, he is of the opinion that journalists in Africa are not politically independent.
Mr Cue also charged that journalists should not be bias in their reportage, they should be people who can analyse issues and explained them to the people in an understandable manner.   
Respect for ethics protect the creditability of a news article, image of the journalist and increases the professionalism of the press. A code of ethics is good in a country where there is no freedom of expression; it protects the young and aspiring journalist from falling into the trap of governments, individuals and enemies of the press.
The erstwhile spokesperson of the Geneva-based United Nations High Commission for Refugees reiterated that “democracy is a process and not an event”.


 Unplanned settlement, poor drainage system, the main causes of flooding in Kanifing Municipality
Unplanned settlements and poor drainage systems are the main causes of flooding in the Kanifing Municipality, according to Mrs Binta Sey Jadama, the Municipality’s Disaster Coordinator.
“The drainage system within the municipality is still not enough and some are in bad conditions, others are not functioning,” she told this reporter in an interview at her office on Wednesday 20th July, 2011.
Disaster is a man-made or natural hazard that has come to fruition resulting in an event of substantial extent causing significant physical damage or destruction, loss of life and property or drastic change to environment.
For the past years, Gambia has been experiencing a lot of disaster occurrences, flooding, fire outbreaks and others, but many describe these disasters as man-made, which can be prevented from occurring.
Mrs Sey Jadama added that a good or central drainage system will allow water to flow freely, thereby reducing the risk of flooding within the municipality. “Solving this problem needs long term planning, because people have been living in water ports for a long time now and evacuating them will be very expensive,” she said.
However, she said the municipality has put in place several plans for disaster preparedness; among them, training of rapid response teams on the disaster management data collection.
She said: “We are already on a cleaning exercise of the drainage systems in which communities are taking the lead. This will allow the free flow of water within the environment they are living in.”
According to her, disaster management has been decentralized as part of plans for disaster preparedness and prevention, people at the grass-root level will be leading the assessment teams to their areas.
She adds that as part of these preparedness plans, they have provided the public broadcaster, Gambia Radio and Television Services (GRTS) with a tape and a drama clip for broadcast to help increase the level of awareness of the people.
This, she said is done in partnership with the Eco Project under the Non-Governmental organisation, Concern Universal and the GSM Company, QCell. Both have been devoting part of their air time on GRTS to sensitise the people on disaster preparedness through drama.
She added that the central government through the main body responsible for disaster management in the Gambia National Disaster Management Agency (NDMA) is also funding the ‘disaster hot spot’ around the country.
Within the Kanifing Municipal Council (KMC), Bundung Borehole and Tallinding have been identified as “disaster hotspots” because these areas recorded the highest number of disaster victims in the region last year.
But she said Ward Committees are currently working with their communities to reduce the level of threat and occurrences of floods in this rainy season, adding that since there have been problems within the KMC where runoff water is blocked by settlements from flowing into streams and rivers.
She said people should stop building on water courses in order to allow for the free flow of rain water during torrential rains.
Research has showed that all disasters are hence the result of human failure to introduce appropriate disaster management measures. Developing countries suffers the greatest cost when a disaster hits.
More than 95 percent off all deaths caused by disaster occur in developing countries, and losses due to natural disasters are 20 times greater (as percentage GDP) in developing countries than in industrialized countries.      
         

*   CDS Kinteh says good communications safe lives sometimes
CDS Lt. General Masaneh Kinteh (L), VP Njie-Saidy (R)
Good communication sometimes saves lives, the Chief of Defence Staff of Gambia Armed Forces Lt. Gen. Masanneh Kinteh said, while explaining how Gambian firefighters help put-off a fire outbreak in a Senegalese school close to the Gambian border.
A Senegalese firefighting station is situated miles away from the school, however, they were able to communicate to their Gambian counterparts near the border to intervene, and CDS Kinteh believes the incident demonstrates the need to adopt a common communications mechanism.
Speaking at the end of a ten-day African Endeavour 2011 Testing Exercises at the July 22nd Square in Banjul on Thursday, CDS Kinteh said the event provided a solid platform for partners to communicate well. “It is important to establish and adopt common communication mechanism,” he reiterated.
The Exercises, which started on July 11 was organized and funded by the United States Government, the African Union and The Gambia Government, aimed at strengthening the communication ability of African securities and to build a stronger partnership between US military and militaries of African nations.
The event is considered the largest in terms of participating countries, which involved 35 African countries, five NATO nations, the United States and other regional organizations like East and Central African Stand-by forces. The African Endeavour, establish in 2006, has trained more than 1200 communication specialists from more than 35 countries. 
“It is pleasing that African Endeavour is growing from strength to strength with the increase involvement of African Union and additional European partners,” CDS Kinteh noted.
However, he stressed that their over-riding goal should be to develop the adequate human capital, institutional capacity and material resources to the extent that they can take full ownership of the African Endeavour initiative.
The Vice President of The Gambia and Head of the Security Council, Dr. Isatou Njie-Saidy commend the US Government for the trust and confidence bestowed on the Gambia Armed Forces and by extension, the Gambian Government, by accepting the candidature to host the exercise.
Having successfully gone through this very important exercise, she hopes the participants would have taken advantage of the opportunity to communicate and interact with each other.
When she took her turn, Pamela Ann White, United States Ambassador to The Gambia called communication “an interesting phenomenon” which requires more than one person, and two skills “talking and listening”.
White reminds military personnel that they have given their pledge to protect human lives and democratic values, adding that they should also understand the rewards of stability and peaceful coexistence.
She noted that through the defence’s HIV/AIDS prevention program, they are helping to build a healthy professional army for Gambia by sensitizing members of the Armed Forces and their families about the disease, building clinics and administer voluntary testing and counseling.
She said the international military education training initiative is the flagship of their military assistance program with the Gambia, adding that funding this past year amounting to GMD 4,350,000 allowed them to send four newly commissioned officers of the GAF to the US to take leadership courses.
On the Africa Partnership Station, she said the US trained 57 members of the Gambia Navy in 2011 in the areas of fisheries, law enforcement and medical emergency.


President Jammeh (Pix: The Voice Newspaper)
§  Make hay while the sun shines, President Jammeh tells Gambian youths
The President of the Republic of The Gambia, Yahya Jammeh has challenged the youths of this country to take the opportunities created by his government to enhance national development.
He was speaking on July 22, during celebrations marking 17 years since his military-led coup of the then democratically elected government of Sir Dawda Kairaba Jawara in 1994.
This year’s event was held at the Arch 22 in the capital, Banjul under the theme “Mobilized energy youth to enhanced national development”. 
The unemployment rate among the youths has been projected to be high; however, Jammeh said providing employment opportunities for the youths has been an objective for his government.
This, he said, will enable the youths who made up to 50 percent of the population of the country to be positively engaged within the framework of national development, which he adds “is very crucial”.
He stressed that the youths should take ownership of the opportunities created for them, to achieved sustainable livelihood, peace and security. “My government has always recognized the importance of youths and has created the enabling environment for employment creation for the youths in our collective drive of our development goals,” he said.
In view of this, he noted that youths are the key target in his new government strategy, the programme for accelerated growth and employment (PAGE), adding that the country cannot develop if the youths are leaving in search of greener pasture.
“Remember that those greener pastures you are looking forward to, was build and developed by the youths of those counties,” he said.
He said Babylon was build and developed by Babylonians; even though at expense of Africa, while citing Japan, Singapore and   Malaysia as examples of countries to have emerged as economic powers in the world.
He noted that this was made possible by the youths of these countries who sit and stay too developed their country to become what is be toady.
In recent years, the country has seen an upsurge in the consumption and trafficking of drugs, however, President Jammeh reiterated that “drug and corruption will never be compromised.”
“Because drugs and corruption has been seen as an identity tool for guns and violence which will not be tolerated in this country, if we want to build a prosperous country, we most fight corruption and drugs,” he adds.


o   Greenie Environmental Education project gauges feedback
Greenie Environmental Education Project- The Gambia on Thursday concluded a two-day seminar to get feedbacks from teachers on the implementation of a pilot programme on environmental education in 65 nursery schools the country.
The event was held on July 20-21 at the Future Training Foundation (FTF) in Kololi.
The Greenie Project is funded by the Global Environment Facility (GEF), the United Nation Development Programme (UNDP) and the Small Grant Programme (SGP).
Its Project Coordinator, Mr George Riegg, said the Greenie Teams have implemented a four years pilot project of environmental education in 65 nursery schools in the Greater Banjul Area, reaching 7000 children and their communities by using the Greenie Book designed by Caroczel with the input of many local teams’ members.
“Greenie is a way to focus people to understand their environment and to better take care of their environment, that is why we engage nursery school children,” he said.
“Teachers have been using the Greenie Book to teach their pupils to better understand how to protect their environment. Our aim is to raise awareness on the environment.”
According to him, the project has been successful since children in 65 nursery schools now know how to protect the environment and are practicing what they’ve learnt at home.
The Greenie Environmental Education Project is a new and unique initiative in The Gambia, it came to life after Caroczel, a female artist from the United State of America visited The Gambia and was exploring the ways of the people.
She created the Greenie as an environmental mascot and champion together with her partner, George, an environmentalist active in The Gambia, the development of a project idea of “bottom-up education” trying to reach the communities through young children.
They contacted the FTF, a new Gambian institution to train early childhood educators and carers to help disseminate knowledge through their member nursery schools and to develop a local network.
What followed were consultations with the Early Childhood Development Unit of the Ministry of Basic and Secondary Education and the National Environment Agency, who were actively involved from the onset to ensure that the messages are locally relevant and culturally acceptable.
Friends, volunteers and community members were also consulted and the Greenie family grew with the common goal of spreading positive environmental messages.

ü Gambian to host Youth Crime Watch’s West Africa Office
Mr. Abdul Jobe, the Executive Director of Youth Crime Watch, The Gambia has disclosed that Gambia will host the West Africa sub-regional office of Youth Crime Watch.
Jobe has also been elected by eight West African Countries to serve as the Regional Director of Youth Crime Watch for West Africa during a recent sub-regional meeting of the organisation in Accra, Ghana.
In a statement to The Voice, Mr. Jobe said the meeting brought together youth organizations from eight countries of the sub-regional economic bloc, the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS). They include The Gambia, Ghana, Nigeria, Guinea Conakry, Togo, Cameroon, Sierra Leone and Liberia.
Among the issues discussed was “youth leaders’ participation in national and sub-regional development” and “to empower young people to serve as an effective catalyst for social transformation in West Africa”.
According to him, youth leaders were of the conviction that youth participation in all spheres of national and regional development require youth mobilization across the sub- region.
“A foundation like this is premised on the level of holistic youth involvement as key players in democratic processes and social transformation in the sub-region,” they argued.
Mr Jobe said Youth Crime Watch helps promote the culture of peace, human rights, good governance, open societies, seek to foster good citizenship and build self confidence in the minds of young people in the sub-region for development.
He also noted that while discussing pertinent issues affecting youth development, strategies and programmes were formulated to pursue the realization and strengthening the capacity building of youth leaders, advocacy, lobbying to influence policies and mainstreaming youth participation in national and sub-regional development.
“Promotion youth participation in decision making processes that will affect their future is also a major thrust of youth crime watch, West Africa. It serves as a public policy voice, an advocacy mechanism on behalf of young people, influencing the right policies and serving as umbrella for youth development,” he said.
“Problems such as rural-urban migration, unemployment, cross-border conflicts, organized crimes, drug and human trafficking, corruption and elections were among the issues discussed. Some of the solutions raised were institutional capacity building, youth employment, rural development, and research and data collection, partnership with various stakeholders’ entrepreneurship, skill developments and advocacy awareness campaigns.”


·       NEA nurturing the young to take ownership of the environment  
The Environmental Education & Communication (EE&C) Unit of the National Environment Agency (NEA) on Thursday held a drama competition for twelve schools in the Greater Banjul Area and the West Coast Region of The Gambia.
The competition, held on July 21 at the Environment House in Kanifing, is in collaboration with the Adaptation to Climate and Coastal Change (ACCC).
The ACCC, an NEA-UNDP supported project is aimed at finding ways for adaptation action to combat the effects of climate change on the West African coastline.
While the drama competition is meant to avail young people the opportunity to take ownership of the environment and help in the dissemination process of basic information that will trigger positive attitudinal change towards the degradation of the environment.
“It also aims to ensure the school going boys and girls contribute their roles towards sustainable conservation, protection and preservation of the environment,” the organisers said.
Mrs. Ndey Sireng Bakurin, Director-Inter Sectoral Network, NEA said young people should protect the environment they live in and hence, environmental education continue to emerge as a much needed dimension for all types and levels of education.
With the purpose of imparting environmental issues to the school and out-of-school target groups and the public, the sensitivity of awareness, knowledge, skill, attitudes, commitment for actions, ethical responsibilities, protection and improvement of the environment will increase for the present and future generations.
She stressed that there must be a deep awareness on the interconnectivity between society and environment, such as bushfires, deforestation, and climate change. 
For his part, the Senior Programme Officer EE&C Unit, NEA Mrs. Aji Binta Kinteh noted the competition will help the young to play a greater role in the protection of the environment.
The Director of Administration and Finance, Bully Mustapha Dibba called on young people to embark on research about their environment in order to become agents of change for the protection of the environment.
When he took his turn, Dodou Trawally, the Coordinator of ACCC, said they expect children to pass the message of environmental protection onto their various schools and communities.
Acts on bushfires, tree feeling, greenhouse gas and climate change were staged, with Bakau Lower Basic School emerging the winner and was awarded a prize of D3000; Bakoteh Lower Basic School emerge second with a prize of D2000; and the rest of the 12 schools awarded consolation prizes of D500 each.

  • SOURCE: The Voice Newspaper

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