The Gambia government has responded to the Kuntaur and Niani area flood disaster with high powered delegation and massive relief for the area. A delegation consisting of the newly appointed Vice President and minister of women affairs Aja Fatoumatta Jallow Tambajang, foreign Minister Lawyer Ousainou Darboe, minister of information Demba A. Jawo, minister of higher Education, National Disaster Management relief Agency, Chinese and Qatar Ambassadors to the Gambia visited the area on Friday September 8th, 2017. The delegation brought with them two trucks loads of Rice, oil and other commodities to help the desperate people of Kuntaur and its surrounding area affected by the floods. Posting on his face book page Information Minister Jawo said “At a meeting in Kuntaur right now by the VP and several cabinet ministers and some foreign ambassadors and donor agency representatives. This is the second such high level visit to the area in a week to commiserate with the people of Kuntaur on the recent floods that hit the town and its surroundings” The delegation were joined by National Assembly member for the area, elders and many other agencies.
The Chinese Ambassador reportedly donated $100,000 equivalent to D4.5 Million Dalasis to help the community rebuild from the massive floods. The truck loads of rice and oil was presented to the local community by the Vice President and her delegation. The Barrow government was heavily criticized for its slow response to the massive floods in the area with citizens all over social media calling on the government to do something to help the victims who were facing an unprecedented floods from heavy rains. All but three compounds were flooded and some reportedly lost their houses and everything else. The Waa Niani association in coordination with good citizens of the Gambia immediately took their own actions recording videos and organized a fundraising drive to help the victims.
Although the Gambia Radio and Television Services were dispatched to cover the disaster, the massive publicity did not hit social media until Gambians in the Diaspora picked up from every angle calling on the government to response to the needs of the people. A highly rated television show on GRTS Kerr Fatou Show was also motivated by the outcry on social media such that the show visited the area to cover the event live. Eve Africa TV a growing online favorite TV program hosted by Sukai Gaye also held a program on the event calling on citizens and good Samaritans to respond to the needs of the people. A Gofundme donation page was set up for anyone who would like to donate.. Click on link to donate.
Prior to Kerr Fatou’s coverage of the disaster Opposition leader Mamma Kandeh and his GDC party was the first to visit the area with food items donating over 200 bags of rice to Kuntaur and the local area. Mr. Kandeh and GDC’s visit was welcomed by many people which echoed the calls on government to response to the disaster especially after Kandeh’s smart showing comforting residents when they needed it the most. Many supporters of the government warned that if government does not response this will show a sign of weakness on their part.
Ultimately as the saying goes “better late than never”, Gambians across the world and people of Kuntaur and it’s surroundings welcome government’s response to help the people. It is to be noted that the new Gambia is very different as citizens seems to be very much aware of government responsibilities and are increasingly holding on their government to account. The Barrow government must understand that Jammeh’s 22 years of dictatorship breed a new political dispensation that made almost every citizen an activist to monitor government action or lack thereof. The government would be better served if it in fact put together emergency cabinet oversight board that would work in tangent with NDMA to address issues as soon as they arrive. The good news is this increasingly loud voice from citizens especially from Gambians in the Diaspora through social media is here to stay and will continue to scrutinize government actions or lack thereof. On balance, the Kuntaur disaster though disastrous, it has awoken both citizens and the government in the plight of the people. No government action good or bad would be left unchecked.
Link to Gofundme.. https://www.gofundme.com/nianisami-disaster-relief-fund
Story filed by Demba Baldeh Associate Editor