Governor LRR urges funders to increase his region’s budget on cash transfer

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By Olimatou Coker

Hon. Seedy Lamin Bah, Governor of Lower River Region (LRR), urged the World Bank and the government of The Gambia to allocate more funds on the cash transfer to be able to reach out to more households in his region as LRR is one of the hardest hit regions.

Hon. Bah made these remarks on Wednesday in Kiang Jiroff during the Nafa cash disbursement spearheaded by the National Nutrition Agency (NaNA), and its numerous partners like the Department of Social Welfare (DWS) and the Department of Community Development (DCD) who are currently implementing The Gambia Social Safety Net Project (GSSNP) which is jointly funded by the World Bank and the government of The Gambia (GoG).

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The project aims to improve the coordination of social assistance activities, provide temporary social assistance support to rural households in the wake of Covid-19 and increase the inclusion of the extremely poor in the Nafa program.

The “Nafa” program component of the project is piloted in the 3 districts of Foni Bintang, Nianija, and Wuli West and is subsequently being rolled out to the remaining 17 districts. A bi-monthly cash transfer of D3000,00 and social and behavioral change communication (SBCC) activities are provided to approximately 15,000 extremely poor households for a period of 18 months.

He called on the beneficiaries to use the money in the best interest of their families and to think about how to get the family good food.

“I am urging on the World Bank and The Gambia government to increase their participation and to also increase the number of people that will benefit from the Nafa cash transfer.”

“It is a very important project and it is a welcome development”.

He added that recently The Gambia is hard hit as a result of climate change effects and LRR is one of the most vulnerable and it is very fitting for them to receive this cash transfer.

Babucarr N.Joof, Director of Planning Research Mobilization and Research Nafa GRM Focal Person Program, said they are targeting 1,079 households that have been registered in LRR specifically in the three districts of Kiang West, Central, and East.

“All that we are trying to do is to make sure we reach out to all beneficiaries wherever they are so that they will not have to travel 5 kilometers to get to the pay points,” he said.

He pointed out that they have no challenges as far as the second circle is concerned. He said all beneficiaries are issued with cards that would allow them to be able to get or cash out the money that is intended for their households.

He also called on the government and partners to invest more in social protection accompanied by social and behavioral change communication so that they can reach out to the majority of Gambians.

“We are here in Jiroff to also reach out to the 26 households that are drawn from the 4 different communities”.

He said the Nafa program cannot cater to every household in the country. Joof called for expansion of the Nafa program to other areas so that “we” can collectively build resilience.”

He concluded by advising the beneficiaries to keep their cards properly and with care for the subsequent cash payments (which is the ninth circle) that we envisage transferring to the beneficiaries.