Gambia — Side By Side Organisation, formerly called United Youth Association, last Saturday, celebrated its 6th anniversary in Farafenni, North Bank Region (NBR). The theme for this year’s celebration is: “Bush fire endangers our environment”.
The celebration took the form of a march past led by the Farafenni Scout Band, from the AFPRC General Hospital to Farafenni Multi- purpose Centre. Side By Side Organisation is a youth group that promotes educational programmes, aimed at improving the standards of education among needy, encourage sexual and reproductive health and rights education, empowering and educating youths and also sensitise the community on environmental regeneration for sustainable use of natural resources.
In his welcome remarks, Arafang Dibba, the youth coordinator of North Bank Region, said young people play a pivotal role in the socio-economic development of the country, noting that they should always be conscious about their rights and responsibilities that they claim most often. He thanked Side By Side Organisation for extending their tentacles to North Bank Region.
Jainaba Leigh, the assistant programme officer of Side by Side Organization, informed that the organisation’s work on environmental issues and its operation against bush fire, are to ensure that youths and communities are fully oriented about the dangers attached to the menace of bush fire in their communities. She pointed out that their task as youth advocates is to contribute immensely to the quest for tangible solutions to the frequent fire outbreaks. He said youths can strive hard to stage anti-bush fire campaigns to protect the country’s forest cover.
“Today’s celebration marks another mile stone in the history of the organisation, as this is the third celebration, attractingpeople from all walks of life to brainstorm over threatening issues that deter the productivity of the forest zone,” she stated. She said they periodically embark on numerous community sensitisations on the dangers attached to bush fire and its causes, noting that it is the responsibility of all to ensure that the forest cover is well protected for better agricultural productivity.
“Our organisation also embarks on empowering youth to acquire education so as to enhance their productivity in society. This project has been successfully implemented since 2005, through provision of scholarship to our members and non-members as well. We vehemently build the notion that equipping youth with knowledge and skills is the best way of liberating them from their various predicaments, inculcating good educational values at the early stage,” Jainaba said.
For his part, Saikou K Sonko, the regional director of Forestry in North Bank Region, described the occasion as very informative and relevant to the community in their quest for protecting and preserving the country’s forest production. He called on others to emulate the giant strive taken by Side by Side Organisation in creating awareness for people to fully comprehend their roles and responsibilities in the society and things that hamper their own development.
“Our country hugely depends on farming which contributes 40% of the gross national product (GNP), and in order to minimize the high level of poverty in our society is prudent to utilise our forest products and covers,” Sonko noted. He called on populace to always nurture the culture of tree planting in their communities and desist from endangering the forest productivity in a bit to ensuring socio-economic transformation of the country.
The event was attended by people of the community, youth activists and other stakeholders.