All public activities of the Njawara Agricultural Training Center (NATC) were suspended until after a severe windstorm that hit the country on July 7, 2021.
Established in 1990 as a community organization (CBO), NATC has been operating as a full-fledged NGO since October 1997, with a total area of six hectares suitable for agricultural production.
The centre’s funding source depends on the commercialization of the proposals as all their projects are geared towards climate change mitigation mainly funded by the EU, UNDP, Action Aid and the JEF project.
President Adama Barrow visited the scene a day after the incident to see for himself the extent of the damage and pledged his government‘s support for the institution.
The center lost two of its solar panels due to the storm and they still have not recovered them. “We looked everywhere but couldn’t see them,” said Mama MK Manneh, director of the center, in an interview with The Point.
The Gambian Red Cross assessed the extent of the damage and found that around 1.6 million dinars had perished in the infrastructure. “It does not include our office devices like laptops and desktops,” Mr. Manneh said.
“This made us not accept any training from our beneficiaries because all the dormitories were damaged and therefore we cannot make the farmers here suffer.
“July 8 was scheduled for the training of the women and because they had not heard of the news, when they came here some of them were crying seeing the level of devastation,” said the director. Manneh, adding that this is the difference between the center before and after.
“It led to the cancellation of that particular lineup and a setback for the center.”
Sulayman Ceesay, a staff member at the center, expressed similar views, saying this type of destruction was never expected at NATC as it was surrounded by trees in large numbers.
The International Trade Center of the YEP office in The Gambia also assessed the extent of the damage and pledged to rehabilitate one of the dormitories with a water tank, bakery and solar installations, among others.
The centre’s vehicles and motorcycles were also trapped in fallen tree debris and their removal caused D 25,000, according to Manneh.
“The windstorm destroyed our roofs and killed two people. A child of Kebba Saine died and his wife broke her leg,” said Aji Haddy Panneh, the village’s alkalo (chief).
“Some are still being admitted by the Kerewan health center. Jim Mbackeh Fanneh’s 24-year-old died during the storm because a building fell on him.”
Mama Jamba, a poultry farmer, said she lost a significant number of chickens to the storm, although she could not say the exact number of chickens she had before the storm.
“A building fell on my hen house and it led to its collapse. I spent a lot of money in my poultry farm to endure such suffering. Imagine I had to buy a chick for 100 D and it is very expensive to feed “she said, claiming their food is imported from Dakar, Senegal. Haddy Panneh also suffered the same fate.