By Olimatou Coker
Vice President Muhammed BS Jallow has revealed that Gambia government will establish a social protection fund for social assistance and that cabinet has recently approved the bill providing direct legislation on the social assistance sector.
He also disclosed that the bill has already been submitted to the National Assembly and it will seek to amongst other things, make provision for social assistance and determine the qualification requirements in respect thereof.
VP Jallow made these remarks while addressing the opening ceremony of the Gambia international social conference organised by the National Social Protection Secretariat (NSPS) at the SKJ Conference Center.
He added that the government will mainstream direct social assistance into the budget by piloting the expansion of the Family Strengthening Program (the FSP) to vulnerable groups in 2024 and 2025 and that evidence gathered in this pilot will inform the subsequent scale-up and expansion of the coverage as they strive to move away from project-based social assistance to program-based.
“The Gambia government has also recently established the Social Protection Regional sub-committees to be chaired by governors and comprising relevant technical advisory group members in each region. The objective as defined in the policy is to replicate the high-level coordination of the steering committee at the regions. The government will provide the necessary resources for the smooth functioning of the structures,” VP Jallow said.
He said in line with government’s development aspirations and the Social Protection Implementation Plan, the government continues to provide health fee waivers and highly subsidised health services and these strides will continue in view of the recent establishment of the National Health Insurance scheme, which aims to provide access to health care for all and sundry.
Saraphine Wakana, the United Nations Resident Coordinator, said the outcome of this international conference, the responsive Call-To-Action paper and the cost implementation plan, will serve as a roadmap for advancing social protection, not only in The Gambia but across nations. “It will guide the integration of social protection into national development plans and set the stage for innovative approaches to financing and expanding coverage.”
She added that the United Nations remains ready to provide technical assistance, expertise, and resources to ensure the successful implementation of these plans globally.
The conference also brought together key government institutions, international organisations, NGOs, the academia and many more.