By Omar Bah
Eighty-three thousand underprivileged Gambian families are set to benefit from D1,500 monthly allowances spanning four months following the launch of the multi-million dollar Nafa Quick Transfer project by the vice president yesterday.
The project is intended to contribute to the mitigation of the social and economic impact of Covid-19 on the population by providing immediate universal cash transfer of D1,500 per month (2 transfers of D3,000) within a period of four months to about 83,000 households in 30 districts in West Coast, Lower River, Central River, Upper River and North Band regions.
It will be implemented in the 20 poorest districts targeting 15,606 extremely poor households (selected using a proxy means test and community validation) for a period of 18 months.
The government in collaboration with the World Bank is executing the five-year US$31 million Social Safety Net Project.
The project is currently being implemented by the National Nutrition Agency (NaNA), the Social Protection Secretariat, the Department of Community Development and Department of Social Welfare.
Launching the project yesterday, Vice President Isatou Touray said “the project objective is to improve the coordination of social assistance activities and provide temporary social assistance support to rural households.”
She said the Nafa programme will provide cash transfer targeting the extremely poor households with accompanying social and behavioural change communication.
“The Nafa programme targets specific geographical areas, the selection of which started at district level. This exercise was informed by the district contribution to poverty in The Gambia, measured by the sum of the extreme poverty headcount ranking and the extreme poverty gap ranking.
“The rationale behind starting the selection at district level was based on the huge differences in poverty levels within regions, which results in better-off and more populated areas masking important poverty pockets, which often remain neglected by several programme interventions. Using the Integrated Household Survey 2015/16 data, districts with the highest ranking by head count poverty rate plus poverty gap rate were selected. Within each of these districts, all communities, and all the households within, will be assessed for eligibility.
“National statistics have indicated that huge disparities exist within The Gambia’s population in accessing basic social protection services, coupled with social, cultural, economic and environmental risks that exacerbate this situation; and those most affected are the poor and vulnerable people,” she said.
She said the government has demonstrated “staunch commitment” to make social protection issues a national priority by coming up with a National Social Protection Policy as envisaged in the 2018-2021 National Development Plan.
“The government is also spearheading a number of policy level initiatives including the annual National Social Policy Forum and the establishment of the National Social Protection Steering Committee, mandated to promote high level dialogue for improved social protection delivery,” she added.