By Aisha Tamba
Stakeholders in the health sector yesterday gathered to review the Building Resilience through Cash Transfer for Nutrition Security (BReST) project in order to address challenges of lactating mothers with children under two years old.
The Unicef project was funded by the EU and jointly implemented by the National Nutrition Agency (NaNA) and the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare.
The EU provided a 3 million euro grant through Unicef for the cash transfer programme aimed at building resilience for nutrition security.
The implementation of the two-year project started in April 2017 and will contribute to the improvement of the nutritional status of lactating women and children under the age of two in North Bank, Upper River and Central River regions.
Officials say BReST would be reaching over 6, 000 beneficiaries who on a monthly basis, are given cash transfer of D600.00 with accompanying social and behavioural change communication on the promotion of key family practices such as exclusive breastfeeding, adequate complementary feeding, water sanitation and hygiene.
The Permanent Secretary of the office of the vice president, Lamin Jaiteh, explained that the project is conducting and facilitating monthly growth, monitoring postnatal care, institutional delivery, birth registration, vitamin A supplementation and deworming.
“These efforts in addition to the MCNHRP and other interventions will surely improve nutrition and health status of mothers and children,” he added.
PS Jaiteh noted that during the period under review, over 24 million dalasi was transferred to the beneficiaries to support dietary diversification of children and families.
Unicef deputy representative Toshiko Takahashi, stated that the BReST project aligns with The Gambia’s National Development Plan, NDP and the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals.
“Specifically, SDG 1.3 which aims to see a world in 2030 where all governments implement nationally appropriate social protection systems and measures for all,” she stated.
She added the provision of cash transfer to vulnerable families offers some level of social protection, and provide resources to enable families lift themselves out of poverty, adding that the BReST project has been recognised by government as a flagship programme.
The project manager of the EU delegation to The Gambia, Darrell Sexstone, said the EU is aware that BReST has been “very successful and a highly appreciated project” with a strong national ownership.
“The project should normally be finishing this month but we decided to extend it by a further eight months so that the caseload cycle is completed by February next year.
Our advice would be to also take this extra time and use wisely as in the future there will surely be more work to do in this important area,” he told the gathering.
Meanwhile, the workshop allows participants in the project, Unicef project staff, NaNA, the office of the vice president, health workers and regional staff to come together to present their individual findings.
It permits analysis and discussion of the date evidence to show trends and impact and work on best practices in the future so that the “1,000 day approach” of the project can be improved and refined.