Following the exit of Yahya Jammeh, the European Union has opened a new chapter in its relations with The Gambia, as Neven Mimica, Commissioner for International Cooperation and Development, arrived the West African country on Friday for a meeting with newly elected President Adama Barrow.
Mimica in a statement said, “The peaceful democratic change in The Gambia is the result of the determination of the Gambian people, as well as the regional and international coordinated efforts of the Economic Community of West African States. Gambians have shown commendable resolve, patience and courage during a period of high tension. The EU is fully committed to engage with President Barrow and his Government. We want to be a privileged partner of The New Gambia. In addition to the €75 million package of immediate support signed today, we are already preparing a medium term package of €150 million, which will focus on building the capacities of the State and on job creation.”
This visit is a clear signal of the EU’s readiness to provide immediate financial and technical support to the democratic process in The Gambia and its dividends for the population in terms of good governance, respect for human rights and the rule of law. The EU will also step up its support to sustainable and inclusive development of the country in close consultation with the new authorities. The EU is committed to support progress regarding democracy, human rights, good governance and sustainable and inclusive development.
The package of measures, amounting to €75 million, was signed by Commissioner Mimica today. It comprises a project of €10.5 million to reinforce access of the most vulnerable populations, including female-headed households, to markets and socio-economic facilities. This will be done through a feeder road rehabilitation programme. Further, a project of €20.5 million will aim to create growth and employment opportunities, in particular for youth, as well as better access to food. A project of €11.5 will seek to improve food security, e.g. through supporting the provision of food, cash, treatment of acute malnutrition as well as prevention of all forms of undernutrition. Under the EU Emergency Trust Fund for Africa, The Gambia will benefit from a contribution of €11 million aimed at increasing job opportunities for youth. Finally, interventions amounting to €21.5 million in the areas of climate change, food security, support to civil society organisations, democracy and human rights, among others are also part of this first package.
Mimica has also announced today the preparation of a second package of €150 million, which will be made available for medium and longer-term actions in favour of the Gambian population. An EU technical mission is visiting Banjul to identify and discuss areas of mutual interest.
The EU-Gambia partnership has helped deliver important development goals for The Gambia, including for example the paving of nearly 50% of the Gambian road network through projects funded by the European Development Fund. Relations have also flourished in other areas such as trade, fisheries and tourism.
The European Union’s total allocation for the Gambia under the 11th European Development Fund (EDF) for the period 2014-2020 was set at EUR 150 million. It was decided to start with an initial envelope (EUR 33 million for 2015-2016) to support the development priorities of The Gambia, as defined in the “Programme for Accelerated Growth and Employment” (PAGE 2012-2016). The main sectors of the first phase are Agriculture for economic growth and food security/nutrition and Exit strategy to the transport sector. With the new government in place, the key priorities of the EU in terms of development cooperation include rapidly supporting stability and reconstruction of the Gambian State.
The Gambia also stands to benefit from the regional agenda of ECOWAS, whose priorities are focussed on five areas of intervention, notably, peace and security, infrastructure development, agriculture and resilience, common market and regional competiveness and capacity building.
The Gambia also benefitted from the Environment budget line. A Global Climate Change Action project is being implemented in the area of integrated coastal zone management and climate change. Interventions in the areas of food security, agriculture and rural development, job creation, in particular for youth and women, as well as actions to support civil society organisations, democracy and human rights, are currently ongoing.
The Gambia is eligible for the EU Emergency Trust Fund for stability and addressing root causes of irregular migration and displaced persons in Africa. Since the Valletta Summit, two new actions have been adopted in favour of Gambia for a total of EUR 14,9 million aiming, among others, to offering economic opportunities and jobs to reinforce the capacity of youth.