From 1994 to 2016, the presidency of Yahya Jammeh weakened state institutions in order to perpetuate the corrupt management of state resources for the benefit of himself and a very small class of political cronies. The impact of Jammeh’s government corruption damaged the national economy, which has resulted in poor social service delivery, poor infrastructure, unequal access to health services and a proliferation of crime and illegal migration of young people, especially in rural areas. Although the 2016 election of Adama Barrow demonstrated the public’s will to oust Jammeh and reform the state, Barrow’s presidency has experienced slow progress in the fight against corruption. There is little political enthusiasm towards necessary institutional reforms because corruption is deeply rooted in Gambian politics. The absence of proper checks and balances within the three arms of government, has resulted in a non-transparent political system that promotes corruption and wasteful use of public resources.
In order for sustainable economic and anti-corruption reforms to be possible in a post-Jammeh Gambia, a coordinated effort to engage in anti-corruption initiatives is therefore necessary and for Gambians to become aware of the scope and nature of corruption in their country. Civil society organizations (CSOs) have an especially crucial role to play in raising the political awareness of the electorate and fighting corruption in both state institutions and civil society generally.
The Anti Corruption Coalition (Gambia) (ACCG), supported by the Partnership for Transparency (PTF) and funded by the National Endowment for Democracy (NED), began an initiative in September 2019 initiatives aimed at: (1) enhancing the capacity of the ACCG as a national institution in fighting corruption and (2) establishing a cascade model of national and local anti-corruption champions and community organizers to raise awareness of corruption and public accountability among Gambians, especially youth and women, and educate them on avenues to exert pressure on public officials to bring about institutional reforms.
Component One: ACCG and members governance and operational capacity improved.
The aim of this component is to strengthen the overall governance and operational capacities of ACCG, and its network of anti-corruption champion (ACC) groups and CBOs in the areas of good governance, transparency and anti-corruption initiatives. Private consulting trainers along with PTF will provide technical support in building ACCG capacity through organizational reviews and trainings. ACCG will leverage the capabilities developed to strengthen knowledge management and action learning among members, ACCs and Anti-Corruption Community Organizers (ACCOs) at the community level. The activities in this component include:
- A desk review needs assessment of the ACCG on how to organize the member organizations in order to engage in anti-corruption initiatives in the Gambian context. The needs assessment will incorporate the PTF’s expertise in civil society technical assistance and integrate PTF into the work of the ACCG for constant technical input and feedback.
- A 4-day training (Training A) for ACCG members on organizational governance, leadership, program delivery and impact measuring. This activity will strengthen the capacity of the ACCG’s nine member organizations in engaging in anti-corruption activities at the national, regional and local levels. The training will conclude with a consolidated action plan and preliminary strategic plan, which will be shared with partner organizations, such as NED, the PTF and the Center for International Private Enterprise (CIPE).
- A 4-day Strategic Planning Session among all members to develop ACCG’s strategic plan and operational manual. The strategic plan will harmonize the activities of ACCG’s members to utilize their comparative advantages in a uniform fashion and engage in anti-corruption efforts in the most effective way possible. The session will also be attended by five (5) anti-corruption actors such as activists, civil society leaders, journalists, and possibly one National Assembly member who is also a member of the African Parliamentarians Network Against Corruption (APNAC). These non-ACCG participants will attend the Strategic Planning Session on the second and third days and coordinate the ACCG’s strategic plan with their experiences and resources in mind.
- A 4-day training-of-trainers (Training B) for ACCG members on national anti-corruption laws and policies, international conventions, and mechanisms for anti-corruption efforts. This training will strengthen the ACCG’s capacity to train local anti-corruption champions (ACCs) from the Local Government Authorities (LGAs) Kuntaur and Mansakoko. These LGAs have been identified as areas for intervention as they are among the least economically developed in the Gambia and thus have limited access to information and low participation of women and youth in public activities.
- Production of knowledge and learning materials on the project approach, lessons learned and impacts in the form of public reports, statements and press releases. The project team will also conduct three (3) knowledge sharing events to present their approach to public awareness-raising of corruption. These knowledge-sharing events will take place at the University of the Gambia, located in Serekunda, and in each of the two (2) identified LGAs (mentioned above).
- Consultative meetings to establish a Pro-Accountability Network comprising of CBOs, CSOs, journalists, women and youth groups, etc. ACCG members will also use their connections with several of the 11 National Assembly members who are currently members of the African Parliamentarians Network Against Corruption (APNAC) to promote public buy-in of the initiatives and strategize a coordinated working plan for anti-corruption efforts in the Gambia.
Component Two: To establish anti-corruption champion (ACC) groups at the grassroots level to raise anti-corruption, civic and political rights awareness among communities.
The main activities under this component are to develop anti-corruption information education communication (IEC) tools and for the ACCG and trained ACC groups and Anti-Corruption Community Organizers (ACCOs) to use these tools in conducting anti-corruption trainings. The main activities under this component include:
- Developing IEC tools and materials for ACCs to use in civic education activities on corruption at the community level. Developing these IEC tools will require translating relevant messages into diagrams, pictures and symbols to aid effective message delivering to target audiences in rural communities.
- A 1-day Cluster Sensitizations for selection of ACCs. Sensitizations will be conducted by ACCG members in four (4) clusters per above mentioned LGA (Kuntaur and Mansakoko). Four (4) ACCs will be selected from each cluster (16 ACCs total).
- A 3-day training of trainers (Training C) for the 16 ACCs in each of the cluster sites. Each training will be conducted by two ACCG members. The trainings will focus on how to capacitate local groups and individuals to raise awareness of corruption, using the EIC tools.
- In cluster teams, ACCs will conduct four, 1-day Community Anti-Corruption Trainings in their respective clusters. These trainings will capacitate 12 ACCOs in each of the 16 community sites (total of 192 ACCOs) to raise grassroots awareness of corruption and the mechanisms for increasing public accountability at the local level. These 192 trained ACCOs are expected to directly benefit 1188 community members (600 of those are expected to be women).
- ACCs will conduct 2-day Policy Engagement Meetings and trainings with 27 Ward Councillors in the two LGAs. These Policy Engagement Meetings will increase awareness of local politicians on corruption and demand accountability and transparency from local and national governments.
- This project will incorporate routine monitoring and supervision, and a formal project evaluation, conducted by a professional private evaluator, six months of project completion.
Addressing corruption and mismanagement of public resources will work towards making the Gambian economy more transparent, which will contribute to improving the national Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and providing adequate resources to address pressing social and economic needs such as poverty, inequality and injustice. This project will therefore act as an initial step in a long-term effort to promote government accountability and the rule-of-law in the Gambia.