Community sensitization

In this post, FFHC project manager Pateh Baldeh explains what happens in the beginning of the project, before the actual project activities start.

Jiffarong, located in the buffer zone of Kiang West National Park, is the target community of the Tesito project. Although some of the activities, such as forest monitoring, are nation-wide, livelihood activities and reforestation take place in Jiffarong. It is important to cooperate with the community and keep open communication from the beginning, as the beneficiaries have an important role in any project and the local partner NGO is responsible for keeping them posted on the upcoming project activities.

Landscape in Jiffarong, on the left arabic school and their water tank,

In the beginning of the project, FFHC project team made a sensitization plan, to inform community members of Jiffarong about the project and ensure their participation in planning and implementing of the activities. Sensitization is an important part of the project, and when working in rural communities in Gambia, every organization and project have to work through the community VDC, Village development committee. VDC needs to be informed of all the project activities and assisting the project team when needed.

At first, the project team prepared the materials at the office, and then traveled to Jiffarong, which is approximately 30 minutes drive from FFHC head office in Mansa Konko, Lower River Region. Jiffarong community members were informed about the visit, and gathered at the village square in front of the Alkalo’s (the village head) house. 

Project manager Pateh introducing the project in front of Alkalo’s house

In the beginning of the meeting, everyone prayed and Alkalo welcomed the project team. Then FFHC Project Manager, Pateh, introduced the project, and highlighted the objectives of the Tesito project. Everyone was able to ask questions, if something was unclear to them during the introduction. 

Sensitization is a very important part of the project. In rural communities like Jiffarong, it can be difficult to reach people by phone, as only few households have electricity and internet connection is poor. To make sure everyone is reached, going to meet the beneficiaries in person is the best way to avoid misinformation and keep everyone posted about project activities. Also, community members have a right to participate in the planning of the activities concerning themselves and their community, and also have valuable knowledge about the community, which the project team needs to succeed in implementing the activities. Therefore local NGO and the target community members need to work together, and the local NGO is the link between Dodo and the beneficiaries to ensure community members are in charge of the activities. 

Photos: FFHC project team