ORT expertise keeps track of community development in The Gambia


12 August 2004 A Gambian government official has given her approval of ORTs performance in setting up a computerized monitoring and evaluation system for a major literacy and income generation project.. Project manager of the Community Skills Improvement Project (CSIP), Maria Dacosta, said ORTs intervention in the form of technical advisor Maryam Ouattara was positive. Ms Dacosta was at ORT House, London with Ms Ouattara for a biannual review of the $192,000, two-year project, which is funded mostly by the African Development Bank but with a significant investment by The Gambias ministries of Interior and Finance. Since the CSIP started last year, approximately 10,000 women and out-of-school youths have benefited from literacy programs and income generation skills training. Some 2,000 people have received a total of $1.4 million in business loans through the CSIPs micro-credit facility, which relies on peer pressure to ensure repayment instead of collateral. ORTs monitoring and evaluation specialist Ms Ouattara is designing a computerized system to ensure that all CSIP activities are monitored accurately and contemporaneously. She is also training civil servants in the systems use so that they can continue to use it well into the future and advising the managers of CSIP projects on how they can improve their programs. Ms Dacosta said: Monitoring and evaluation is important because without it you cant keep track of whats happening and gauge whether youre making a positive or negative impact on the people youre serving. Its also the only way to see if you are meeting the objectives youve set. Before ORTs technical advisor came we were unable to have detailed information from the beneficiary level. Henri Levy, the director of ORTs International Cooperation Department, said: I feel that were making progress. Recently weve trained the Department of Community Developments Research Unit and theyre integrating what they learned into their own system and even improving on it. This is not the first time that ORT has put its expertise at the service of Africas smallest country, 90 per cent of whose citizens are Muslim. Between 1995 and 1998, The Gambia ran its Women in Development program in which ORT was equally responsible for the skills and development and micro-credit components.