Nutrition Agency (NaNA) recently convened a synergy to complement the efforts
of The Gambia government to address maternal nutrition challenges of lactating mothers with children under the age of two years.
Funded by the European Union (EU), the three million Euro grant through UNICEF was aimed at Building Resilience through Social Transfers for Nutrition Security (BReST).
According to organisers, the BReST project has registered 6,176 beneficiaries against the original target of 5,850. Every beneficiary was given a cash transfer of D600 on monthly basis accompanied with social and behavioral change, officials say.
The implementation of the two-year project started in April 2017 and seeks to contribute to the improvement of the nutritional status of lactating women and children under the age of two in North Bank Region, Upper River Region, and Central River Region.
The permanent secretary of Health, Dr. Cherno Barry, said that the government of The Gambia is very committed to ensuring food and nutrition security for the Gambian populace.
“The government of The Gambia is also making efforts to invest in similar areas such as water, sanitation, education, health and economic empowerment as well as providing appropriate labour saving devices to reduce the drudgery and workload of women and other inputs to build the resilience of the households,” he said.
Dr. Barry posed that; the government’s National Development Plan 2018-2021 has placed strong emphasis on social protection and inclusiveness.
The National Gender and Women Empowerment Policy 2010-2020, National Nutrition Policy, the National Health Policy, Social Protection Policy National Employment Policy and the National Education Policy, he said, are all aimed at ensuring a society that is characterized by peace and prosperity where everyone will have equality and equity in all spheres of development with improved access to better nutrition, health, education, food security and employment opportunities.
“Women’s empowerment and the promotion of gender equality are key to achieving sustainable development.”
Attila Lajos, the EU ambassador to The Gambia, said the EU through their Advisory Services in Social Transfers (ASiST) began the design of the project in 2014 to help resolve problems of nutrition in The Gambia.
“The project has further been linked to providing birth registration and encouraging exclusive breast-feeding.”
The UNICEF resident representative, Sara Beysolow Nyanti, in her remarks, said that increased government leadership and commitment are key to the sustainability of BReST and the concept of supporting social transfers to support this essential period of the first 100 days of a child’s life.