Sunday, March 18, 2012

PIWAMP discuses state of implemented projects

Stakeholders in the Project Management Unit of the Participatory Integrated Watershed Management Project (PIWAMP) on March 16-17, 2012 met to discuss and agree on causes of action for project activities implemented.

PIWAMP, Project Units Coordinators, the Ministry of Agriculture, Global Youth Innovation Network (GYIN-Gambia), Upland and Lowland Field Coordinators, and project beneficiaries gathered for the Annual Consultative Meeting at the Rural Agricultural Farmers Training Centre at Jenoi, Lower River Region of The Gambia. 
The consultative forum affords all stakeholders the opportunity to discuss openly critical issues affecting project implementation and to come to terms on the way forward, explains Mr. Alagie Jatta, a representative of the Deputy Governor of the region, LRR. 
While stressing the need to devote time on the discussions implemented projects, the ongoing projects and the planning of upcoming projects, he said such meetings should be hold regularly to enable parties to put up recommendations to be implemented by PIWAMP.
Opening the meeting officially, deputy permanent secretary, Ministry of Agriculture, Mr. Asheme Cole, described the meeting as “very important” because ideas and experiences will be shared.
He urges farmers to partake fully in the discussions since is an opportunity for them voice out their challenges and put forward recommendations to PIWAMP for implementation. “This is an open forum; therefore, you need to participate actively. If you don’t speak now, tomorrow if anything happens you should not put your blame on PIWAMP but yourselves,” he told the farmer participants.
The “bottom-top approach meeting” followed Gambia Government’s public declaration of a complete crop failure last year due to a shortfall in rains. 
Mr. Cole confirms government’s quest for seeds to provide farmers with. An initiative, he said is in the government’s top agenda.
In an overview, PIWAMP Coordinator, Mr. Momodou L. Gassama, says the project implementation in 2011, despite severe constraints, had been very successful especially in the Watershed Development and Capacity Building component.
As implementation of the Lowland Agricultural Development Project (LADEP) activities progressed, it became increasingly clear to all stakeholders that increased food security could only be achieved through an integrated land development approach, Mr. Gassama said.
He noted that the major players on the ground realised the need to adopt a holistic approach in addressing the land degradation issue affecting agricultural production in The Gambia. Hence, all the ecologies in the landscape are interlinked and cannot be targeted separately led to the adoption of the concept of Integrated Watershed Management in the country.
A new component of PIWAMP the Sustainable Land Management Project (SLMP) was unveiled to the forum. It will be manned by a national SLM Coordinator assisted by two Field coordinators who will work in collaboration with the Agricultural Regional Directorates.  Key objective of the SLM is to establish national and region SLM secretariats to harmonize and coordinate all land management issues.
PIWAMP is managed by a small unit headed by a project coordinator, two field coordinators, one managing lowland development activities and construction (dykes, spillways, causeways and bridges) and two upland activities personnel.
The lowland Agricultural Development project (LADEP 1997-2005) focused mainly on the development of the lowland ecologies as a strategy to increase rice production and thereby achieve food security in the country.
PIWAMP was establish following an agreement by agriculture and natural resource think tanks that a new project must be formulated to address all environmental issues leading to low agricultural production and poor natural resource management.
They also formulated a participatory approach that ensured beneficiaries contribution of unskilled labour during land development while the project takes responsibility of all other costs.
The Project Management Unit (PMU) comprises a financial controller, community mobilization officer, and monitoring and evaluation officer aided by other support staff, field supervisors, principal officers and conservation field assistants (CFA).
The PMU is supervised by a Project Steering Committee (PSC) composed of permanent secretaries of ministries of agriculture and finance, and key institutions in the ANR sector. The PSC approves the project implementation plan, annual work plans and budgets and provides overall policy guidance.
The PMU signs annual agreements with eight implementing agencies (service providers), who work in collaboration with project beneficiaries to implement activities through a participatory approach.
The 2011 annual consultative meeting also witnessed presentations by Soil and Water Management Services (SWMS’s) Mr. Ebrima Jobe, Agricultural Officer, Monitoring and Evaluation SWMS;
Mr. Aruna Jobe, Programme Officer Agriculture and Natural Resources at the National Environment Agency (NEA), presented a paper on NEA/PIWAMP partnership in Sustainable Development;
And Mr. Seedy Dampha, a Planner at the Planning Service Unit (PSU) presented a paper on PIWAMP Draft Crop Data Report.

Author: Modou S. Joof

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