« 100 YEARS – 100 LIVES » | THE GAMBIA - “People with disabilities should have equal opportunities to work and contribute to society”

An unemployed female worker with a hearing disability explains how she was offered to successfully join an ILO public work programme and develop her skills.

Reportage | Gambia |
Bird-watching has been one of the many attractions offered to tourists in The Gambia. The resort of Kotu is one of the most popular destinations for holiday makers in the country. Nearly 600 species of birds have been recorded in the Gambia, making it a top destination for bird-watchers. However, the promenade road in Kotu needed to be rehabilitated to attract even more tourists and create more local jobs.

Adama Jammeh is a female worker with a hearing disability. Until a few months ago, she was unemployed. Then, she heard about an ILO employment-intensive investment programme in Kotu, especially targeting youth and with the objective to help build sustainable peace in the country which had been affected by an internal conflict. The project was launched in April 2018 and Ms Jammeh was one of the young workers selected for the road rehabilitation project.

She went through on-site training where she acquired basic skills and knowledge of road construction including Do-nou technology. Do-nou technology was newly introduced to The Gambia by a partner Japanese NGO, Community Road Empowerment (CORE), as a technology that is cost-efficient, easy to maintain by communities, and promoting the use of locally available materials.

Learning about the risks

Another major component of the training was around occupational safety and health. She understood the risks and learned about prevention measures that needed to be taken to limit the possibility of a workplace accident. It was especially important also to have easy access to drinking water, to a shaded space to rest as well as to toilets just next to the work site. She was also entitled to medical and accident insurance for the time she was employed.

Ms Jammeh completed the whole work and received certification. But the idea was also to build on this first work experience and provide her with additional skills so that she can generate more income in the future.

Going further

So after her contract finished, she took part to another training session to learn how to develop a business. It made it possible for her as well as other people part of the programme to team up together, use their skills and start their own business.

She had no problem communicating with other colleagues both with and without hearing disability. One interpreter of sign language also worked for the construction site and ensured smooth communication.

Ms Jammeh was happy to see people with disabilities were not discriminated and were also given the opportunity to get involved in public works.

“People with a disability like me had not been offered many employment opportunities in The Gambia. This is the first time that we are well integrated into the public work. People with disabilities should have equal opportunities to work and contribute to society. I am excited to learn even more. I am proud of being part of this construction work.”

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