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GPU’s D19.5 Million Project to Promote Journalists’ Welfare, Strengthen the Union

The Gambia Press Union (GPU) has launched a D19.5 million project to promote the welfare of Gambian journalists and strengthen the union for better quality of journalism and service delivery.

The project, funded by The Civil Society Fund of Denmark (CISU), was released through the GPU’s partnership with the Gambia Media Support (GAMES), a Danish NGO set up to support the Gambian media.

The GPU President Sheriff Bojang Jr. said a key among the project’s goals is to improve the welfare of journalists for better quality journalism in the country, saying that has always been one of his executive’s key priorities.

“You the individual journalists work round the clock and often times you complain about your working conditions, your welfare generally. So I think I will emphasize the issue of welfare as the heart of this project. As part of this project, we will be looking collectively, all of us together at our welfare as journalists.”

Bojang said the excitement around the project is not just the amount but also the problems it seeks to address.  “There is hope that by the end of this project, we can all raise our hands and say our conditions as journalists and our general welfare have improved, and we can start loving the profession more. When that happens, our delivery to the consumers will also improve.”

Saikou Jammeh, the Secretary General of GPU revealed that the project at hand is the biggest project of the union so far, and as part of its capacity building component, it will strengthen the capacity of the union’s staff, affiliates and welfare issues.

“We are going to build their capacity of the staff we have so that the GPU will be an effective- driven organization. Those that are in communication we are going to build their capacity on how to communicate better, those that are doing advocacy, we are going to build their capacity on how to improve GPU’s advocacy and those that are into fundraising we are going to build their capacity on how to raise more funds for the GPU. We are going to build the skills and competences of the executive committee to be able to exercise especially their oversight functions.”

The Project Coordinator of the Gambia Media Support (GAMES) Per Roholt said the project comes to hold the government to account and also to build the capacity of journalists to effectively play their role. According to him, it will also ensure a fair working conditions and collectively bargaining of contracts of media workers in the country.

“They must have the capacity to exercise their rights while they are doing so.

“The project will also focus on the equality in the media on the women’s rights to work in the media houses. It also comprises the affiliates of GPU because we believed that in order to make the GPU strong and accountable, the affiliates must be strong and accountable. This project will strengthen democracy and the country’s truth, reconciliation and reparations processes.”

Launching the project, the Minister of Information, Communication and Infrastructure, Ebrima Sillah reaffirmed the government’s position to providing friendly environment for Gambian journalists. He applauded the GPU for rebranding itself from a fighting to a proactive union that works for the members, and for professionalising of the profession.

“We are happy that a lot of other issues are put into consideration, especially the gender equation of the professionals in the industry. We are extremely concerned as a government that those that leave their homes to the offices not only as permanent employees but also as freelancers and contributors who sometimes go home without getting what they worked for or even what they worked for is not enough to reimburse their the transport that they spent money on.”

Among the specific goals of the project is the provision of GPU press badges and safety jackets for journalists. The D19.5 million project will last 30 months.

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