The President of The Gambia, His Excellency Adama Barrow, commended the strong cooperation between the government and UNICEF, especially in education and health, as he bids farewell to outgoing UNICEF Representative Gordon Jonathan Lewis. Mr Lewis was at State House for a farewell meeting with President Barrow before he leaves for Dakar, Senegal to assume his new role as Deputy Regional Director for UNICEF West and Central Africa.
The President congratulated the UNICEF Representative on his new role and expressed delight that Mr Lewis will still be working in the region. He assured Mr Lewis of his government’s strong commitment to the protection and fulfilment of the rights of children, especially the right to quality education. He noted that strong efforts are being done to improve access to quality education, including more investment in training and conditions of services of teachers.
For his part, the UNICEF Representative thanked the President for the excellent collaboration with different government ministries which he said is built on trust and confidence. He also congratulated the President on the development of the government’s new Green Recovery-focused National Development Plan which caters to the needs of children and the great progress made in improving access to education across the country. He advocated with the president for stronger action to improve quality learning, scale up public financing for children and restore the country’s impressive immunization track record which has been a model in the subregion before the COVID-19 pandemic caused a backslide.
Mr Lewis briefed the President on national efforts supported by UNICEF to end open defecation and noted that with more efforts, the country has the potential to become the first country in Sub-Saharan Africa to become open defecation-free. He said at 23%, the country’s COVID-19 vaccination coverage is relatively good and thanked the president for supporting the national COVID-19 vaccination by launching the vaccination programme in March 2021 and taking the first jab.