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Social, child protection policies launched

Nov 9, 2016, 10:01 AM | Article By: Cherno Omar Bobb

The Social Protection Policy and Child Protection Strategy Plan were yesterday launched during the 5th National Social Protection Forum held at the Kairaba Beach Hotel.

The theme for this year’s forum is: “From planning to implementation”.

The main goal of the 5th consultative form on social protection in The Gambia is to provide a platform for policy-makers, civil society, researchers and development partners to exchange knowledge, ideas and experiences for implementation of an effective, integrated and inclusive social protection system in The Gambia.

Isatou Njie Saidy, vice president and Minister of Women’s Affairs, in her keynote statement, said The Gambia has started the implementation of an integrated and inclusive social protection system to reduce poverty and vulnerability, diminishing people’s exposure to risks, and enhancing their capacity to manage economic and social risks, such as unemployment, exclusion, sickness, disability and old age.

She added that, in the last decade, The Gambia has made significant progress towards reducing poverty and advancing the MDGs, the SDGs and Agenda 2063, particularly with regard to food security, basic education, health and child protection, as well as women’s empowerment.

Through NaNA and the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare, the Maternal and Child Nutrition and Health Results Project with its main development objective to increase the utilization of community nutrition and primary maternal and child health services in selected regions of The Gambia using a combination of supply and demand sides of the RBF approach is currently being implemented, she continued.

One of the key elements of component 2 of the project is the food security enhanced Baby Friendly Community Initiative (BFCI) scale-up, and the proposed unconditional cash transfer to build resilience of vulnerable households, she revealed.

A total of US1.8m of the additional financing is earmarked for the food and nutrition security (FNS) interventions, she added.

It is expected that the project being implemented over three years (2016-2018) will be targeted at 5 regions (URR, CRRS, CRRN, NBR and LRR). It will cover 3,000 households as beneficiaries over the three years.

The most vulnerable households will be supported with food and nutrition security (FNS) inputs, including backyard gardens, poultry, and small ruminants.

In addition, communities will also be supported for longer term resilience to establish child food banks and plant fruit trees, she went on.

Mrs Njie-Saidy noted that, currently, there is a wide diversity of formal social protection programmes and informal activities resulting in positive outcomes for the most vulnerable members of population, including children, youth, women, the disabled, and the elderly, among others.

Notwithstanding, she said, “there are notable gaps” related to fragmentation, scope, coverage and financing, as well as to institutional weaknesses in design and delivery of programmes.

All these challenges do affect the system’s effectiveness, according to her.

Hon. Ebrima Njie,  deputy Minister of Works, in his launching statement on behalf of Minister of Health and Social Welfare, said the main objective of the national social protection policy is to facilitate the reform of the national social protection system, by ensuring more efficiency and effective use of resources, strengthening management, administration system for greater progress towards a more inclusive form of social protection that provides basic social income and social services to Gambians.

He pointed out that government recognizes the need to address all forms of violence, abuse, exploitation and negligence.

The five-year strategic plan, from 2016 to 2020, seeks to promote the right to protect the legal framework, bring about efficient coordination and collaboration, develop human capacities and ensure financial resources, expand prevention and protective services and the right to protection, he added.     

Other speakers on the occasion included Nadia Goodman, representative of WFP Centre of Excellence, Ms Ade Mamonyane Lekoetje, UN resident coordinator, and Juldeh Ceesay, DPS Ministry of Finance and Economic Affairs, who deputised for her minister.