National statistics have indicated that huge disparities exist within The Gambia's population in accessing basic social protection services, coupled with social, cultural, economic and environmental risks that exacerbate this situation; and those most affected are the poor and vulnerable people.
Based on that, the overall project, which seeks to contribute to the mitigation of the social and economic impact of COVID-19 on the population, is covering parts of West Coast, Lower River, Central River, Upper River and North Bank Regions. It basically provides immediate universal cash transfer of D1,500 per month (2 transfers of D3,000) within a period of 4 months to about 83,000 households in 30 districts in these regions.
With the advent of the COVID-19 pandemic and the stringent measures put in place by the Government, this cash transfer would significantly reduce hardship as well as well as mitigate the impact on food and nutrition security.
We all know that the spread of COVID-19 already has a serious economic downturn in The Gambia especially on most vulnerable households. As forecasted by experts, the economic downturn as a result of the pandemic has resulted to decline of income from labour markets; rising food prices, especially for imported goods as well as significant decline of remittances from abroad. A number of Gambian families that depend on remittance are suffering a great deal as a result of the severity of the covid-19 pandemic.
On 9 October, NANa and partners commenced implementing the second phase where each household is receiving another three thousand dalasis (D3,000), making the total six thousand dalasis (6,000) within the 30 project districts. But one important catch phrase put across by these officials is wise utilisation of the fund. We all know that the impacts of crisis are never gender-neutral, and COVID-19 is no exception.
For the needy families in Wuli and Jimara, COVID-19 lockdown measures have paused their small businesses that bring food on the table. And those in the Northern Bank is the same story. For a number of women in various economies of every size, along with losing income, unpaid care and domestic work burden has exploded.
However, what is more pleasing about this whole project is the overwhelming positive testimonies and feedback from communities, as most recipients are spending the money wisely particularly on food items which is very important.
However, in every distribution exercise, their exist challenges. And this particular one is not an exception. One of such challenges is people turning up with vouchers they are claiming were not paid during the first round.
We therefore want to commend Word BANK and The government of Gambia for such a laudable project.