Being the smallest country in continental Africa with borders running around a river of the same name, the Gambia’s population relies heavily on subsistence farming and agricultural businesses. This situation creates a very undiversified job market that presents fewer opportunities to job seekers, especially women and youth.
This is why UNCDF teamed up with the International Trade Centre (ITC) and the Gambian government to develop ways to expand and diversify opportunities for people seeking jobs that require a much-needed skillset, providing them with better and more stable sources of income. This, in turn, will also reduce unemployment and irregular migration. As Senegal completely surrounds The Gambia, many job seekers opt to leave the country for better job opportunities.
The European Union (EU) saw that this initiative was necessary to curb youth unemployment and encourage women to live productive lives with sustainable income. ITC has an array of interesting capacity-building programmes. At the same time, UNCDF manages assessments in rural and urban areas to find out what the employment needs are for specific groups and villages. This is how the partnership came about, the first of its kind in the country, named the Jobs, Skills and Finance (JSF) Programme.
The capacity-building programmes focus mainly on providing technical skills, but they also have an entrepreneurial growth aspect. Yusupha Keita, Technical Advisor and Coordinator for Skills Development, explained that the programme goes into communities to identify the capacities that need development. He said: “When it comes to capacity building, we look for programmes that are relevant, accessible, and are of good quality.”
The programme has grown through the years, delivering trainings on solar power, horticulture, food processing, stove production, general construction and electrical installation, among other subjects. Keita said: “We have 23 different programmes that we have delivered in the