Nafa Program: woman engage in soap making
Nafa Program: woman engage in soap making
By Cherno Omar Bobb
Haja Sona Marena, a native of Sare Ngai village in Wuli West District, Upper River Region has started soap makingafter benefiting from the Nafa Program.
The ‘Nafa’ Program component of The GambiaSocial Safety Net Project (SSNP) (a US$ 31 million project) isjointly funded by the World Bank and the Government of The Gambia.The ‘Nafa’ Program is designed to promote continuity and harmonization with other programs, by expanding an existing package of cash transfers with Social and Behavioural Change Communication (SBCC) managed by NaNA and partners.
The National Nutrition Agency (NaNA), Directorate of Social Welfare and Department of Community Development are the implementing partners of the ‘Nafa’ Program.The Gambia SSNP is implemented in West Coast Region (WCR), Central River Region (CRR), North Bank Region (NBR), Lover River Region (LRR) and Upper River Region (URR) targeting 15,606extremely poor households, this equates to approximately 40 percent of the extremely poor households in The Gambia.For a start, it was being piloted in Foni Bintang, Nainija and Wuli West Districts.
The Project Development Objective (PDO) is to improve the coordination of social assistance activities, provide temporary social assistance support to rural households in the wake of COVID-19, and increase inclusion of the extreme poor in the ‘Nafa’ Program
The beneficiary selection was done using a Proxy-Means Test (PMT) which was followed by a community validation exercise in the poorest 20 districts of The Gambia. The regular revenue provided to extreme poor households is aimed at increasing both short-term consumption of essential goods, and enabling longer-term investments in human and productive capital.
Tailored SBCC provides information to beneficiaries and non-beneficiaries to encourage investments that can bolster human capital especially maternal and child health and nutrition, adolescence education and family planning; parenting and prevention of gender-based violence; and productive capital especially savings, entrepreneurship and agriculture to break the inter-generational cycle of poverty.In the three piloted districts, a total of Two Thousand, Seven Hundred and Seventy (2,770) beneficiary households each received D3000 every two months during the seven rounds of payment.
She explained that live was challenging for her and her household before the commencement of the ‘Nafa’ Program because they are poor. However, she said after benefiting from the Cash Transfer, she used part of her money to buy the materials she used to start the soap making after buying a bag of rice and basic food commodities for her household.
“A lot of people from the community now buy soap from me because of its quality,” she said, adding that she is able to make profit after every product as well as reinvest in her business.
She stated that, women as the primary caregivers of households it is important that make best use of the ‘Nafa’ Cash Transfer by investing part of it to ensure they are able to sustain their households when the project phases out.
According to her, most beneficiaries creativity and idea generation was limited but after being trained on SBCC and attending several sessions before any cash transfer by the project they had ideas to invest part of their ‘Nafa’ cash to ensure they are able to sustain their households when the project phases out.
She thanked the World Bank and The Gambia Government for funding the project. He also thanked implementing partners.
Samba Bah, Governor of Upper River Region expressed satisfaction with the way the Cash Transfer is carried out by implementing partners, saying this is because an assessment was done to identify extremely poor households.
He observed that the Cash Transfer has positively impacted the lives and livelihoods of beneficiaries.
He pointed out that beneficiaries do not only stop at receiving the money but are putting it into good use with some of them investing in businesses and other ventures.
Governor Bah noted that the project has transformed the lives of many in his region and other parts of the country and therefore appeal to the World Bank and The Gambia Government to expand the project to other districts across the country and increase the duration and scope of the project so that the poverty alleviation the country is yearning for is achieved.
Abdou Aziz Ceesay, Director of Social and Behavioral Change Communication at the National Nutrition Agency said as a nutrition agency responsible for all nutrition and nutrition-related activities in the country the success registered by the project is a dream come true for them.
He highlighted that, if you uplift the extremely poor from poverty it improves under-nutrition, adding that lifting households from poverty and building their resilience improve their health and nutritional status as well.
Mr. Ceesay pointed out that if the trend of success registered by beneficiaries continues we will drastically reduce malnutrition and contribute to socio-economic development of the country.
He said, the reason why the cash transfer is accompany with Social and Behavioral Change Communication is to ensure beneficiaries invest part of the money they receive to ensure they are able to sustain themselves at the end of the project.
He called on other beneficiaries to emulate those that are already successful or have started micro-finance businesses.
“If some beneficiaries can do it, I believe any other beneficiary from any district can do the same thing or even better,” Director Ceesay expounded that the monies being given are not the ends and means of everything and therefore attending SBCC sessions is the most important activity to build beneficiary’s capacities to be able to use their resources in things that will increase their resource base. This he said will uplift themselves from poverty or even more from where they are to another level when the project phases out.
Director Ceesay said, his Project Coordinator and team, have started discussions with the World Bank and The Gambia Government about the possibility to increase the coverage, resource envelope, duration and scope of the project.
According to him, in The Gambia almost everybody is poor, it is just that our level of poverty defer.
He therefore appealed to funders to extend the project to other districts across the country and increase its duration to possibly 36 months.
He also appealed to the UN System, European Union and other donor agencies to support The Gambia Government in trying to increase the number of beneficiaries supported by the Cash Transfer.
He said the intervention will have a direct impact on households in the country and thereby improve the health and nutrition of the population.
“No Social Safety Net or Social Assistance activity will last forever and I therefore appealed to beneficiaries to use the opportunity to increase their revenue base and get into other micro-finance activities to support their households so that when the project phases out they can turn around and get money from other avenues to support their households,” he concluded.