By Olimatou Coker
The National Nutrition Agency (NaNA), the Directorate of Social Welfare (DSW), and the Department of Community Development (DCD) are currently implementing The Gambia Social Safety Net Project (GSSNP), which is jointly funded by the World Bank and the Government of The Gambia, on Thursday reached out to over 3,500 people in the Central River Region south of the country on the Nafa cash transfer.
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 extreme poor in the Nafa program.
Speaking, Abdou Aziz Ceesay, Director Responsible of the Social and Behavoral Change Communication at NaNA, described the Nafa project as one of the best so far in the country.
“The world is experiencing economic recession which is affecting not only The Gambia but everyone, couple with a lot of problems like Covid-19 and several other things happening and some even relate it to the current war in [Ukraine]. All these problems culminate to create more hardships to people. The prices of fuel and other basic commodities are increasing by the day. Therefore having the Nafa intervening at this critical in building resilience of the extreme poor is welcome and very timely,”he said.
Ceesay said farmers are also facing the most difficult time, considered as the lean period. “This lean period starts from July to September where farmers invested everything they have into their farms and left with almost nothing. It is also the time children suffer a lot in terms of malnutrition and health problems.
The intervening at this time with SBCC will go a long way in building resilience of the extreme poor and also to helping them to diversify their diet, and improve the health and nutritional status of their people.”
He also noted the turnout in CRR is very excellent.
Ebrima Dibba, programe officer for monitoring and evaluationat the National Nutrition Agency (NaNA), said these beneficiaries are not only receiving cash but they are also benefiting from health and nutrition education, under the cash transfer and the SBCC component of the project. “It is a requirement for the project to start with the SBCC by NaNA officers and partners in every pay point before they start giving cash to the beneficiaries.
Giving them this cash is not enough because if you give them cash and you do not tell them what to do with the cash, and you do not tell them the importance of adopting desirable behaviors, the cash will not be of any benefit to them.”
He added that they are currently in Bati Njol, and they are expecting around 229 beneficiaries not only in Bati Njol but from the other satellite communities, and they have almost 9 communities coming to join Bati Njol to receive cash payment.
“Basically, this is the first time we are reaching out to the people of this part of the country on this Nafa cash transfer”.
Dibba advised the beneficiaries to utilize the money for its right purpose and in terms of feeding, to also invest some in buying small ruminants so that it can lift them out of poverty.
Sohna Cham, a beneficiary from Madina Chamen, said: ” I’m very happy about this project, even if someone gives you one dalasi you will be happy, much more D3000 in this rainy season when things are challenging.”
Alieu Begaye, also a beneficiary from Mbayen in Niamina, said he is very happy. “This project brought a lot for us, both parents and children are happy, as it will reduce our difficulties. We see its importance in the country, our houses, and the communities.”
He said the first thing he will do is to buy a bag of rice and a gallon of cooking oil.