The UN World Food Programme (WFP) with the support of the United States Agency for International Development Office of Foreign Disaster Assistance, USAID/OFDA, has commenced its first-ever cash transfer activity in the districts of Tumana and Jimara in the Upper River Region.
A news release issued by WFP Banjul office, stated that the exercise began in Bakadagy where community members lined up to receive cash on behalf of their households instead of the usual food supply that was normally provided.
It added that other villages that will benefit from the exercise include Gambisara, Sandi Kunda, Badari and Kundam for the first round.
“The second round of cash transfer which will take place next is geared towards supporting people living with HIV/AIDS and their households,” it added.
The WFP dispatch noted that this cash transfer initiative is being undertaken as part of the on-going emergency operation (EMOP) to assist farmers whose harvests have been seriously affected by the 2011 crop failure. Over five million dalasis will be distributed to a total beneficiary caseload of 20,000 people in URR for a period of two months.
“The value in cash terms for these beneficiaries is equivalent to the food basket that beneficiaries in other regions receive under the EMOP (general food distribution).”
Vitoria Ginja, the WFP Country Director said: “With the generous support of our donors, WFP is enabled to empower recipient families to select the preferred food commodities most appropriate to their needs. At the same time, cash has been shown to be beneficial in terms of promoting the local market and hence enhance economic development, which complements the overall objective of the organization.”
The dispatch continued to state that WFP undertakes this initiative in agreement with the Gambia government based on careful studies to ensure that the circumstances are right to move to cash instead of food assistance, and several feasibility assessments have been concluded in this regard.
To undertake this project, WFP established partnership with Concern Universal having regard to their tremendous experience in this area, and their ability to use operational partners such as the National Association of Credit Unions of The Gambia (NACCUG) in the delivery process.
Other implementing partners include the Wuli and Sandu Development Agency (WASDA) and the National Disaster Management Agency (NDMA), which have been actively involved in monitoring and sensitizing the communities.\
In his remarks, Tony Jansen, the Country Director of Concern Universal, highlighted the importance of the partnership between Concern Universal and WFP, noting that it gives his office a great opportunity to participate in the fight against hunger and community development, as a whole which complements their effort in this area.
The beneficiaries in Bakadagy expressed their heartfelt joy and appreciation for such a generous assistance from the World Food Programme. The money, they said, “will not only be used to buy food for my household, but will also assist us to meet the school requirements of the children now that the term has just begun”, the release concluded.