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Report from The Gambia

Introduction

 

Gambia and Avon Fire Services in Partnership (GAFSIP) for the past 20 years has been adding value to the lives of people living in The Gambia particularly the Gambia Fire and Rescue Services, other beneficiaries such as communities, schools, women groups and organizations. The valuable support provided during the past two decades which included equipment, fire-fighting & rescue appliances, educational materials, capacity building and training have  impacted positively in saving lives and poverty alleviation.
 

A. Gambia Fire and Rescue Services

This partnership through the provision of appliances and equipment has enhanced the Gambia Fire and Rescue Services (GFRS) capability to response relatively well to all small and big incidents. By the provision of such appliances, it has assisted with the modernization of the service these past years. GFRS has been making progress in service efficiencies in many frontlines such as efficient working practices, improved fire fighting and response, emergency preparedness and other related community needed services.

Through GAFSIP  continuous training programmme for the GRS personnel at the various levels over the years, it avail the opportunity for building a more effective fire service by continued building local capacities of the GFRS personnel , filling service gaps and providing more robust public service. The benefits included the provision of information on the best practices for providing good services to increase cooperation and coordination, improve training, and broaden service delivery, sustainability and continual quality improvement.
These continuous capacity building activities are paramount to the efficient and expanded services provided by the GFRS country wide for better value of money for tax payers. This process has contributed to the GFRS ability to set up and operate fire  and rescue stations in all regions of The Gambia.

Furthermore, due to this initiative, the GFRS over the past years is implementing new and innovative fire safety, education and fire prevention programs in cooperation with other stakeholders such as the schools and communities in the regions. Public Fire education has progressed during the life span of this partnership. Standards are now set for messages and programs.  GFRS is having now a regular Fire education programme hosted by KORA FM  radio station which has a wide coverage in the country.

Acquisition of Ambulances and health equipments and training of paramedics’ personnel did strengthen the health and safety programmes within the Gambia Fire Service and communities at large that benefit that benefit from it.

A literacy programme was initiated which activities included setting up and functioning training IT centre at  Serrekunda Fire Station. It provided the opportunity to train many fire personnel and it did pay dividend as they became computer liter and thereby  assisted them in carrying out their duties such as recording keeping, research on the internet, data and information management.

Since the inception of this partnership, there have been constant networking and information sharing at the various levels. It did provided the opportunity to renew contacts with partners and the widening of partnership at various levels which is already producing positive results in terms of strengthening   and building of Fire fighters’ capacities in their various areas of work.

 

B. Education Sector

During the recent past years of this partnership, GAFSIP continue to complement Government efforts and to contribute towards meeting the ever growing needs for the education sector. This continued support has positive impacts. The provision of assorted educational materials to various schools in the various regions of the country has contributed to the improvement of school infrastructure, teachers’ and pupils’ performance. Furthermore, with provision of reading books to the National Library, it has assisted the institution to strengthen and update it books stock for the various target groups. Another positive outcome of this partnership was the initiated School exchange programmes which lead to linking UK schools with Gambians schools. It have facilitated a long term inter linkages and relationship between two cultures at the school level and also provided opportunity for Pen friend scheme at a personal level for children and teachers.
 

C. Health sector

The GAFSIP to date provided assorted medical items to Regional Hospitals and Health Centres and Fire Service clinics. This kind of intervention has contributed toward creating windows of opportunities for improved service access, variety, service time, and reliability, increased value for money, capital, and innovation. It further assisted in strengthening the health delivery service in the country and continues complimenting Government efforts for provision of quality health services.
 

D. Community development

GAFSIP have been supporting women’s groups and skill centres. It teamed up with Women in Action for environment and sustainable development- a local charity organization to work with selected women groups in both urban and rural areas. The activities focused on sensitization of women, organization of women into Self-Help Groups, training them on leadership and groups dynamics including income generating activities.   Furthermore, GAFSIP facilitated for some groups through the provision of needed materials, the development of self-financing and activity sustainability mechanism. These activities contributed positively towards the economic and social betterment of women.
 

ACKNOWLEGDEMENT

We would like to thank very much and acknowledge the contribution of all the individuals, groups, trainers, organizations, corporations and foundations for their overall support, in the technical, financial, and administrative and management and coordination throughout the process, their commitment dedication to ensure the success of this partnership. Their dedication, commitment and enduring hard work is much appreciated.

We particularly wish to thank and commend the Avon Fire Authority, Councilor Terry Walker the Trustees and Mr. Kevin Pearson, Chief Fire Officer of Avon Fire and Rescue Services who have continued to support GAFSIP.  
 
A particular thank you to our special friend and colleague Mr. David Hutchings, Patron and Coordinator of GAFSIP, for his leadership, guidance and fore sight.

February 2012