By Olimtou Coker
Kebba Jatta, regional social welfare officer in the Upper River Region, has appealed to the World Bank as the main funder of the biggest cash transfer project ever in the history of The Gambia to scale up its support in reaching out to more extreme poor households across the urban settlement.
Jatta made these remarks on Tuesday during an interview he had with the press at Batunding village, Baja Kunda Ward in Wuli East District, URR.
Following a series of preparatory activities for the rollout of the “Nafa” program, the National Nutrition Agency (NaNA), the Directorate of Social Welfare (DSW), and the Department of Community Development (CDC) are currently implementing The Gambia Social Saftey Net project (GSSNP), which is jointly funded by the World Bank and the Government of The Gambia (GoG). The much-anticipated cash transfer started on Tuesday across the country targeting the remaining 17 districts as promised.
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 inclusion of the extreme poor in the Nafa Program.
The “Nafa” program components of the project were piloted in 3 districts, namely Foni Bintang, Nianija, and Wuli West, and 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 roject is targeting 15,606 households which represent about 40% of the extremely poor households in the country.
He described these cash transfers as very timely, especially for the extremely poor households targeted by the project.
“I think this Nafa program will create that enabling environment for those poor people to meet their basic needs in life in terms of their food consumption and also taking care of their families like paying their school fees and other essential needs.
The Social Safety Net Project comes at the right time and is hoped to lessen the problems farmers faced during the lean period which is normally experienced from July to September.”
Musa Dahaba, Senior Program Officer at NaNA, said this is a very important activity. He said the World Bank supported the Government of the Gambia with a tune of 30 million US dollars, and one of the objectives of the project is to improve coordination social assistance activities.
“We all know that there are a lot of social assistance activities going on but they are not coordinated and the other objective of the project is to provide temporary social assistance support and that is actually what we are doing by giving poor rural households a cash transfer.”
Alhagie Jatta, community development officer URR, said in URR they are reaching out to 3,105 households on this Nafa cash tranfer.
Koday Wally and Kissima Garie, Nafa beneficiaries, both thanked the World Bank and the Government of The Gambia for the timely gesture.
Kantora, Sandu and Wuli East are benefitting for the first time.