By Fatou Dahaba
The United Nations Fund For Population Activities (UNFPA) on Wednesday held a Town Hall Meeting with partners, potential partners, and Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) on a 5-year 9th Country Programme Document (CPD) 2024-2028 at the Sir Dawda Kairaba Jawara Conference Center, Bijilo.
The engagement meeting aimed at providing details of the CPD, exploring new partnership arrangements, addressing issues raised, and elaborating on the next steps for the successful implementation of the CPD.
The Gambia Government and UNFPA have finalized the drafting of the 9th Country Programme Document to be implemented within five years. The new CPD outlines areas of cooperation between the Government and the UNFPA.
UNFPA Country Representative Ms. Ndey Ross Sarr said the CPD centers on adolescent and youth matters. They are aimed at looking into three pillars, which include how to improve maternal health so that no woman dies while giving birth and also giving access to contraceptives and family planning to ensure that they own their bodies.
She added that they will look into harmful and social norms in the society that need to be addressed to make sure women and girls are fulfilling their potential.
“Adolescence and youth development, we want them to have access to sexual and reproductive health but also to be empowered to participate politically and socially so that we can see an end to back way.”
According to her, for the next five years, starting in 2024, they want to impact the investment case; that is where investment is needed to make sure they end preventable maternal death, address the need for family planning, and look into FGM and child marriage.
Ms. Ross Sarr alluded that their best investment is maternity mortality, which is currently at 288; she believes they could take it to 70 or 100 per 100 100,000 life births with hard work.
Mariama Fanneh, Executive Director of the National Population Commission Secretariat, said that UNFPA has existed in the country for so long and has registered tremendous success in various indicators.
She said there had been a reduction in maternal mortality, family planning, gender-based violence, child marriage, and female genital mutilation, adding there are efforts in progress to eradicate them.
“Maternal mortality has reduced from 433 per every 100 thousand life births to 289 for every 100 thousand life births. There has also been an increase in the uptake of family planning from 9% -to 18% in 2013, 2019, and 2020. We’ve registered successes in gender base violence even though it has been minimal over the years.”
Madam Fanneh mentioned that even though they registered success in maternal mortality, the fertility rate declined to 4.4 in 2019 and 2020.
“Despite all this success, we have seen there have been regional disparities when it comes to total fertility rate. In Kuntaur, we have seen 6.4 children per
a high woman, which is about two more children per woman compared to the national figure.”
She further states that UNFPA is big in making sure that no one is left behind, noting with the upcoming UNFPA-founded program, they targeted intervention; these indicators will improve going forward.
Lamin Camara, Head of Program UNFPA Gambia, said CPD allows partners to see how they fit in but, more importantly, is to highlight how the country’s program links to other strategic national and international frameworks such as the green recovery purpose for the national development plan but also UN sustainable development cooperation and framework.
The ninth Country Program Document includes poverty, high maternal mortality, GDP dept and remittance, COVID-19 and Ebola lockdown, negative gender and social norms, school dropout, human development index, and population.