Maiden GALGA Town hall Meetings Enlightened over 550 People on Sustainable Local Governance, others

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More than 550 people from five rural local councils were sensitized on sustainable local governance, peace and security, and social justice during maiden town hall meetings between local authorities and opinion leaders organized by The Gambia Association of Local Government Authorities (GALGA).

With support from Konrad Adenauer Stiftung Senegal/The Gambia, the activity falls under outcome 2.3 of the 2024 GALGA work plan, which intends to increase taxpayers’ and other citizens’ understanding of council operations and the importance of peace, security, and social justice to establish trust between Local Councils and the people for sustainable growth.

Implemented in Basse, Janjanbureh, Kuntaur, Kerewan, and Mansakonko Area Councils, the town hall meetings sensitized the participants to the operations of local councils, including their decentralized structure—village and ward development committees. They also sensitized them to the importance of peace and security and social justice in the context of sustainable local governance.

Participants in the meetings include chiefs and alkalolus, village and ward development committee members, youth, and persons with disability, security personnel, council staff and students which were held in Kulkulleh and Fatoto within the Basse Area Council, Janjanbureh and Bansang within the Janjanbureh Area Council, Sami Pachonki and Dingerai within the Kuntaur Area Council, Njawara and Kuntaya within the Kerewan Area Council and in Nema and Massembeh within the Mansakonko Area Council.

“We are satisfied with the participation and contribution of the participants in these meetings, and we are happy that we have enhanced their understanding of the roles of local councils and those of people,” the program manager of GALGA, Amadou Jallow, said.

He said the town hall meetings aim to encourage and create discussion platforms between local council authorities and the taxpayer community for improved understanding of their individual and collective roles and responsibilities as enshrined in the Local Government Act 2002 and other laws. “It also aims to encourage the just distribution of opportunities and services to taxpayers by Local Councils and emphasize the importance of peace and security for sustainable local governance.”

Addressing participants at the Sami Pachonki and Dingerai meetings, Saihou Jawara, chairman of the Kuntaur Area Council, emphasized the need for people to seek a clearer understanding of the functions of local councils and their decentralized structure for improved community development.

He said his council would continue to provide services to its taxpayer community but encourage them to be tax compliant by regularly and voluntarily paying their tax, enabling the councils to implement more programs for them.

“Area Councils are tax collection and service delivery institutions, and this cannot be done without the cooperation of the people,” Kerewan Area Council chairman Papa Tunkara said at the Njawara and Kuntaya meetings.

Mr Tunkara said it is the intention of the Kerewan Area Council to organize such platforms of discussion with taxpayers every year, but they are usually constrained by funding and other overwhelming engagements and activities.

At the Nema and Massembeh meetings, the vice chairman of Mansakonko Area Council, Almamo AK Ceesay, said they are impressed with taxpayers’ participation in the meetings and the level of their contributions, which will help the council improve in some of the recommended areas.

According to him, there is a need for increased training and sensitization of communities, particularly the village and ward development committee decentralized structures, other roles as dictated in the Local Government Act and other laws governing local governance in The Gambia.

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