By Olimatou Coker
Dr. Amat Bah, the executive director of the National NutritionAgency, has said that urban poverty is a concern for them at the NaNA level and the country as well. There are plans to do assessments to see the poverty level in the urban areas and to intervene if funds are available.
Dr Bah was speaking to the press at one of the cash transfer venues in URR.
The Nafa 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 components of the project were piloted in 3 districts, namely Foni Bintang, Nianija, and Wuli West. The remaining 17 districts are subsequently being rolled out to mark the first cash transfer that reaches 20 districts simultaneously for eighteen months. The beneficiaries will receive a bi-monthly cash transfer of D3, 000 and Social and Behavioral Change Communication to build the resilience of the extremely poor households and bolster their human and productive capital. The Nafa Project is targeting 15,606 households which represent about 40% of the extremely poor households in the country.
Dr. Amat Bah, who also doubles as the Coordinator of the Social Safety Net project, said the social safety net has three components and one of the components is the Nafa cash transfer, so they are with the Nafa which is component 2 which involves a cash transfer and Social Behavioral Change Communication.
“This is significant for us and the Gambia because we started with piloting the Nafa in three districts and we have learned so much now that we are confident that we can roll out to the 17 districts that are left as you are aware that the Nafa is for 20 poorest districts but we decided that we are not going to do all the 20 at the same time so we pilot to learn from the pilot and then roll out so is what we are doing now”.
He added that if resources are available with satisfactory performance, the chances are that we may scale up to the urban arrears. As a pre-requisite, plans are also on the way for assessments within the Greater Banjul by the Government of The Gambia.
“Currently, there are indications that if the project performs well, resources may be committed in some of the urban districts. The plan of the Government of The Gambia is to see the Social Safety Net as a program where resources will be allocated for such social assistance activities”.
He also said this program is not only about cash transfer but also accompanied by Social and Behavioral Change Communication(SBCC). The SBCC help to build the capacity of the beneficiaries in terms of health, nutrition, entrepreneurship, and financial literacy. Some of the modules, the beneficiaries will be exposed to are as follows: family planning, gender-based violence, maternal and child health, and entrepreneurship.
The communities were sensitized about the transfer value and the duration of the project. Each Beneficiary will be receiving D3, 000.00 every two months for 18 months. The Project hopes that by the closure of the project period, the Government would have taken it up as a program for sustainability.