The Gambia

Gambia join officially the LoCAL mechanism on October 2018 through the “Jobs, Skills and Finance (JSF) for Women and Youth Programme.” The JSF Programme is funded by the European Union (EU), co-piloted by LoCAL and Youth Start. The programme aims to contribute in stabilizing the economic, social and security situation of the country during the democratic transition by facilitating social inclusion and employment of the youth and women, with a specific emphasis on promoting gender equality and addressing climate change.


Ranked at 175 out of 188 countries, The Gambia is classified as ‘least developed’ by the United Nations Development Programme’s 2015 Human Development Index. The country is poor, with about half of its population of approximately 1.9 million living below the poverty line, and an average per capita gross domestic product of approximately $467. Rural dwellers in The Gambia are twice as likely to be poor as those living in urban areas. The Gambia’s economy is highly reliant on subsistence agriculture, with additional household income coming from cash crops and surpluses in productive years. Gender inequality is an important feature of poverty in The Gambia. The World Economic Forum’s Global Gender Gap Report 2017 placed The Gambia at 119 out of 144 countries – far behind neighbouring Senegal at 91, and a notable regression from its 2006 ranking of 79 out of 115 countries.

The Gambia’s fragile economic and social profile makes it particularly vulnerable to a number of potential shocks, including climate change and weather extremes. In 2014/2015, the double shock of drought – which affected agriculture – and the Ebola scare – which decimated a tourism industry only just recovering from the 2008 global financial crisis – led to rising food insecurity rates and increasing migration to urban areas or overseas, particularly Europe. The Gambia needs support in paradigm change and the creation of efficient democratic institutions. Job creation and social inclusion are key to ensuring this goal.

Objectives, Results and Activities

LoCAL-The Gambia is one of three components of the Jobs, Skills and Finance (JSF) for Women and Youth in The Gambia programme funded by the 11th European Development Fund. The programme aims to help stabilize the country’s economic, social and security situation during its democratic transition by facilitating the social inclusion and employment of youth and women, with a specific emphasis on promoting gender equality and addressing climate change. It will accomplish this goal through two components:

  1. Job creation for youth, women and local communities and equal access to employable skills development
  2. Improved access to finance

Activities undertaken as part of the first component, featuring the LoCAL performance-based climate resilience grant (PBCRG) approach, will aim at creating jobs, particularly in the green economy. Local authorities and communities will be supported in identifying needs in priority sectors and in planning investments accordingly. Particular emphasis will be placed on ensuring investments contribute to climate resilience. Prioritized investments will be delivered through cash-for-work programmes for youth and women and through procurement to local micro, small and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs) so that jobs are created in the short to medium term. Workers benefiting from employment will be supported in parallel with access to financial and non-financial services, with a view to broadening their medium- to long-term economic perspectives.

A second set of activities will start with a gender-sensitive skills gap analysis in the priority sectors. Based on the assessment, the project will provide support to increase the number, quality and accessibility of vocational training schemes offered to youth and women. The training will be accompanied by on-the-job training wherever possible. Technical assistance and capacity building for MSMEs and technical service providers will also be offered. The International Trade Centre will support implementation of these activities.

A third set of activities will facilitate MSME access to financial services. The project will particularly focus on youth and women. It will use a market systems–based approach (micro, meso and macro) and ensure improved financial services provider products respond to market needs, so that available credit is used in a way that actually benefits the real economy.


  • In June 2017, a UNCDF mission visited the country and met with stakeholders to present the overall objectives and elements of the mechanism and, more broadly, of the LoCAL programme; this was followed up by a technical mission in October 2017 to collect data and information for actual programme design. In early July 2018, another mission took place to discuss and validate the design of the JSF Programme with stakeholders. The mission team met with representatives of various government agencies and ministries, the private sector, financial providers, civil society organizations, development partners and non-governmental organizations to build awareness of the programme and validate key information to help ensure successful implementation of the various components.
  • In October 2018, the JSF Programme was officially launched during a ceremony that included representatives from various sectors in The Gambia. On the same day, the first LoCAL-The Gambia Technical Committee meeting took place, with the committee endorsing the LoCAL/ JSF design, appointing members and identifying beneficiary wards for years 1 and 2.
  • In November and December 2018, UNCDF undertook a series of activities with ward representatives, technical advisory committees (TACs), multi-disciplinary facilitation teams (MDFTs) and communities. The aim was to sensitize the selected wards and their communities on the JSF Programme and on details of the LoCAL investment mechanism, as well as train MDFT and TAC members on LoCAL design. Around 329 people attended the workshops, 50 per cent of whom were women.
  • A memorandum of understanding was signed between UNCDF and the Ministry of Lands and Regional Governments (MoLRG) and the Ministry of Finance and Economic Affairs for deployment of the LoCAL mechanism and associated PBCRGs. A letter of agreement was also signed between UNCDF and MoLRG to provide the ministry with operational support for successful implementation of LoCAL/JSF activities; these activities include capacity development support to key governance structures such as the TACs and MDFTs, which in turn provide regular support to the work developed and implemented by the wards.
  • A LoCAL account has been opened at the Central Bank of The Gambia to ensure easy traceability of PBCRGs transactions. The wards have opened bank accounts at a local financial institution as a precondition to receiving the PBCRGs, and have signed consent agreements with the MoLRG to acknowledge their participation in the LoCAL mechanism.
  • In July 2019, LoCAL and Centre de Suivi Ecologique (CSE)conclude an agreement to support local government authorities and communities in The Gambia in targeting and planning for climate change activities.

Adaptation Measures and Investments

Supported by UNCDF, the ward development committees have identified investment plans to be financed with PBCRGs. The investments range from sectors such as water, sanitation and health, to climate-smart agriculture, agro-processing and climate proofing of infrastructure; these will benefit around 5,000 people and create about 600 temporary jobs, mainly for women and youth

Beneficiary wards for years 1 and 2 :

  • Lower River Region: Gikoko, Julafarr, Kaif, Bureng, Jaduma, Kiang Banta, Masemba and Pakaliba;
  • North Bank Region: Saaba, Dasilameh, Kachang, Prince, Kerewan, Kerr Jarga, No-Kunda and Pakau.

Lessons Learned

  • By providing funding in addition to regular transfers, LoCAL helps make public funding systems more robust and transparent. LoCAL PBCRGs in Benin support and supplement the regular funding transfers communes already receive from the state through FADeC. Grants for the first year represent an additional amount of around 8.5% of the non-allocated portion of FADeC for the targeted communes.
  • Special care needs to be taken with the design of the mechanism and, in particular, with the choice of minimum access conditions and performance criteria. In Benin, minimum conditions include, among other things, the establishment of an agreement between the commune and the central ministry; the operation of the local committee responsible for environmental issues; the existence of an up-to-date, local adaptation plan; audit results; implementation rate and reporting. Performance criteria in Benin relate to climate information; local adaptation plans; integrating adaptation into local development plans, investment plans and budgets; citizen participation; implementation of adaptation measures; and reporting.​

Way Forward

  • A letter of agreement will be signed with the Office of the Auditor General to provide guidance and supervision to the wards on good governance and financial management. The agreement will also provide necessary support to the Office of the Auditor General in developing guidelines; training councils and ward committees; and undertaking annual audits of the wards on budget execution and minimum conditions including financial statements, use of funds and compliance with national public finance management rules and standards..


Government of The Gambia

Facts and Figures


(in Million)


Number of


Direct jobs for youth and women


Phase I budget

Stories from the Field

Our Team

Banjul, Gambia

Maria Perdomo
Youth Finance Programme Manager

Ms. Sophie De Coninck
Programme Manager for Africa