The Catholic Development Office (CaDO) was founded in 2001 as the development assistance arm of the Catholic Diocese of Banjul, The Gambia, with the mandate to coordinate all economic, social and developmental activities aimed at building a more humane and just society, regardless of the religion, color, race or ideology of its members.
Its main areas of intervention include: HIV/AIDS support, primary health care, malaria prevention, parish capacity building, water and sanitation, agriculture and horticulture, fish farms, emergency response, peace building, and income generating activities. Through parish priests, parish pastoral councils and development committees, village chiefs and committees, etc., CaDO seeks to maximize community capacity building by supporting local initiatives in planning, implementation and wise and effective management of available resources for the benefit of communities, especially the excluded, the poor, women and children. The structure is composed of a diocese and 22 parishes.
The Catholic Development Office implements programs in partnership with Catholic Relief Services (CRS) Gambia, Hands On Care, National AIDS Secretariat (NAS), Action Aid International The Gambia (AAITG), government ministries and departments, local and international organizations, to help the poor and excluded live full and productive lives. CaDO continues to reach the most remote and hard-to-reach communities in all four regions of the country through a series of activities that include:
- The Global Fund’s community-based HIV and AIDS awareness campaigns, voluntary counseling and testing (VCT), prevention of mother-to-child transmission (PMTCT), and laboratory testing for HIV and AIDS, coupled with home-based care, have been successful in dramatically decreasing the prevalence of HIV infections and improving the lives of those living with the disease. CaDO provides these services through three units: the CaDO Basse HIV AIDS Project (Upper River Region – URR), the St. Lazarus Clinic in Fullabantang (Central River Region – CRR), and the Mobile Missionary Clinic (West Coast Region – WCR). In addition to HIV and AIDS activities, the St. Lazare clinic provides basic health care to the people of Fullabantang and its satellite communities, as well as to those of the Senegalese border villages. The mobile clinic also provides outpatient and prenatal care, UC care and immunizations.
- A Global Fund Malaria ITN project based in Soma, LRR (Bas-Fleuve region). Services include distribution of long-lasting insecticidal nets (LLISs), advocacy, and behavioral change practices, targeting children under five, pregnant women, the elderly, and the disabled. The project has had remarkable results across the country.
- A UNICEF-sponsored program for orphaned and vulnerable children (OVC) that provides access to education, health care, nutritional and psycho-social support through the distribution of food supplements, books, toiletries, uniforms, school bags, and school fees. 500 OVCs are currently benefiting from this program in the URR and CRR regions. CaDO also ensures that the births of these children are registered so that they can have birth certificates.
- An agricultural training center in Bwiam, which has already served several communities in the Fonis and West Coast region, providing farmers with training in various modern agricultural techniques, poultry and pig rearing, marketing, and peace building and sustainable livelihoods (for refugees). The center also conducts gardening, seed cultivation, pig farming, housing and hiring office activities. The goal is to enable youth and women to acquire skills and to help shift the migration curve from rural areas to urban centers.
- The Saint Pope John Paul II Foundation for the Sahel provides CaDO with funds for community-based projects approved by the Foundation. CaDO is then responsible for disbursing these funds based on a schedule, and monitoring and reporting on implementation.
Since its inception, CaDO has been in contact with Caritas Africa, Caritas Internationalis and other Member Organizations.
CaDO also liaises with other diocesan units – the Gambia Pastoral Institute (GPI), the Diocesan Secretariat (DS), and the Secretariat of Catholic Education (CES).
Other CaDO partners include UNICEF, United Purpose, the St. John Paul II Foundation for the Sahel, the Hospitaller Order of St. Lazarus of Jerusalem based in Sweden, and the World Mercy Fund.