Source: The Daily Observer
The executive director of Action Aid International The Gambia, Ousman Badjie has said that Action Aid has ensured that its development agenda and interventions impact positively on the lives of people living in poverty, and that development is sustainable, relevant and appropriate to the lives and livelihoods of the poor,

noting that they have also embraced a unified approach to address violence against women. Badjie was speaking at a regional training forum on "reflection action approach," organised by Action Aid International The Gambia. He said the purpose of the meeting was to create a platform for networking and alliance-building amongst themselves, so as to exchange experience and mutual support in programmes, advocacy and campaign works.

"To attain the above, meaningful and effective participation of the people in whatever we do becomes central and quite critical in our programme. Therefore, participation should not be about just numbers, it needs to be genuine, effective and seen to be adding value to the work we do. It is not enough to have more women than men in decision-making processes. What is important is for those women to have the necessary skills, knowledge and education," he stated.

The Action Aid executive director added that, what is equally important for the women is for them to have courage and confidence to be able to influence processes in their favour.

According to him, this cannot happen in the absence of genuine and effective partipation. Badjie thus affirmed that this is where participatory approaches to development become handy and useful. "It becomes therefore incumbent on us as development animators to know the approaches very well and be able to effectively utilise them in the field.

"The key purpose of these approaches is to promote and enhance participation by the people, but the fact that different people from the same organisation use different approaches to engage the same communities can be a source of confusion to the people we work with. Although it is good to have variety, the different approaches will better serve their purpose with proper coordination within and between functions in order to avoid confusion with a view to maximising impact of our interventions," he reiterated.

The chairperson of Action Aid International The Gambia, who was represented by Momodou Wuri Jallow, said Action Aid has in recent years worked tirelessly to enrich their practice of human rights based approach to development. He said they have taken sides with the less fortunate and vulnerable people in some of the poorest communities around the world, defending their rights to food, securing increased access to basic services and helping to put a stop to rights violations.

"With social movements, partners and supporters, we were at the forefront of securing rights to quality education for millions of poor children. We also embraced the interconnected, unified approach urgently needed to address both HIV and AIDS and violence against women. Our human rights based response to 2005 Tsunami was not only successful, but applauded by an independent review panel," he disclosed.

The Chairperson further noted that, their free-campaign successfully led to policy changes that benefitted women farmers in responding to the food crisis in a world capable of producing enough food for all the people on earth. As part of their international transformation, he said, they had moved their international secretariat to South Africa and developed a truly unique international and democratic federation.

Jallow further stated that in achieving their successes, they have also been using different participatory approaches to work with and for the poor and marginalised. While noting that each method has its strengths, he said, they all draw on the same philosophies and tools.

According to him, by using separate names for each of the approaches they were able to fragment people's analysis.

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