VP Touray says gov’t prioritises social protection mechanism, safety nets

Oct 6, 2021, 11:34 AM | Article By: Arfang M.S. Camara

The vice president of The Gambia, Dr. Isatou Touray has stated that the government under President Adama Barrow has deliberately prioritised social protection mechanism and safety nets since the advent of his government.

The country’s number two was speaking on Tuesday, during the opening of a two-day National Social Protection Forum 2021 held at the Sir Dawda Conference Center in Kololi.

The forum was organised by the National Social Protection Secretariat (NSPS), under the Office of the Vice President in partnership with UNICEF and World Food Programme.  

This year’s forum held under the theme: Social Protection: A Mechanism for Inclusive Development gathered different sectors and ministries of the Gambia government.

VP Touray further said that the Gambia government recognises that the current system suffers a range of deficiencies related to scope, coverage and financing as well as institutional weaknesses both in design and delivery.

“To this end, my government acknowledges that the social protection system requires modernisation and expansion in order to provide a more reliable and effective protection from multifaceted shocks and to build people’s resilience to adversity and hardship,” she said.

She noted that it is expected that The Gambia would have a modern social protection system in place and would thereby be able to offer more predictable, reliable and sustainable support that contributes to poverty reduction and builds long-term resilience to risk.

“This year’s forum will provide a platform for the state and non-state actors in the social protection discourse including development partners, civil society and beneficiary groups to dialogue and exchange knowledge and experiences around the theme and other concrete social protection policy matters.”

According to her, day one of the forum [yesterday], was an opportunity for the government, development partners, civil society and beneficiaries to interface and discuss with frankness and genuine passion the social protection agenda and delivery system.

“The day two of the forum today, will have a unique session “panel discussion” with panelist from government and development partners to also have the opportunity to discuss the pathway and vision of social protection in the country.”

Ms. Seraphine Wakana, United Nations Resident Coordinator said that the UN system in The Gambia through its specialised agencies, funds and programmes, have provided support towards building and developing a sustainable social protection system that will respond to both development and humanitarian crisis and reduce vulnerability among extremely poor families.

“In The Gambia, the current social protection mechanism is characterised by limited access, fragmented initiatives and non-inclusive and unsustainable social protection services resulting in less-than-optimal service satisfaction, particularly for rural populations. While services generally provide important support to the poor and vulnerable groups, the majority of interventions are short-term and emergency-oriented, with limited reach.”

Mr. Barra, national coordinator of the National Social Protection Secretariat, said the forum would provide participants with an opportunity to share experiences, learn new strategies and deliberate on ways of achieving a common approach in the social protection sector.

“Being the first of its kind since the establishment of the NSPS, the forum is expected to give us possibilities towards achieving a united approach to safeguard, regulate and coordinate social protection efforts in The Gambia. In addition, the forum will set a benchmark for future forums, especially in terms of the approach.”