Voluntary Services Overseas is a development charity from
the UK that works through volunteers in job placements. The
VSO has been operating in The Gambia since 1960 and its work
presently focuses on the areas of education, disability and
It sends qualified professionals in certain sectors to spend
several years working at local salaries in key, identifiably
useful projects in developing countries.
The aim of the programme is to improve the lives of all people
with disabilities in urban and rural areas, through empowerment
and improved services.
Through working with Disabled People’s Organisations, the
6,600 members of the 9 organisations are direct beneficiaries
of the programme. Of these, about 62% are male and 38% female.
Although the members of the DPOs have been identified as the
main beneficiaries, this programme will hopefully have a direct
or indirect benefit for all people with disabilities in The
The aim of the programme is to improve the quality of inclusive
primary education for all girls and boys for core class subjects
in rural areas.
The Education programme covers all regions in the Gambia but
there is specific focus given to Region 5 because of VSO’s
role in the implementation of the DFID funded Basic Education
Support for Poverty Reduction (BESPOR) project.
The key beneficiaries are primary school children, serving
teachers and teacher trainees. The implementing partners are
Region 5, Gambia College, BESPOR team and Headquarter Directorates
The aim of the programme is to ensure that disadvantaged people
in rural communities in The Gambia will gain more income and
food security from their current activities.
VSO The Gambia (VSO TG) started working with grassroots organisations
in 1998. Since then it has learned that there is a need to
work closely with viable partners who have good track records
and are committed to addressing the needs of disadvantaged
people in rural communities. Learning from previous development
undertakings has shown that in order to have an impact on
the lives of women, the elderly, youths and the disabled,
it is important to build the capacity of local non-governmental
and community based organisations (NGOs and CBOs) so that
they will be equipped to offer effective and efficient services
to these communities.
Disadvantaged people in the context of the Gambia are women,
the elderly, youths and disabled. Women form the majority
of those that are not literate – who do not have access to
land and are traditionally stereotyped as “second best”. The
elderly tend to be neglected by projects and programmes whilst
rural youths are disadvantaged when compared to urban youths.
There are few higher learning institutions or job opportunities
that result in high rural-to-urban drift. People with disabilities
are not seen as productive members of their communities.