World Bank Promises to Tackle Urban Poverty in Gambia

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By Ndey Sowe

Christabel Dadzie, Senior Social Protection Specialist and Task Team Leader for The Gambia Safety Net Project of the World Bank, has assured that the world body will tackle Gambia’s urban poverty.

Dadzie was speaking in an interview with this reporter in Sibanor on Wednesday 3rd August 2022, where implementing partners of the Nafa program commenced the first cash transfer to the remaining seventeen districts.

“We are in a sense to do both and we have been discussing it with our teams. So that is our next step and in our new program, we will be looking at how to tackle urban poverty,” she said.

The NaFa project aims to improve the coordination of social assistance activities and increase inclusion of the extremely poor households in the twenty poorest districts of The Gambia. The program component of the project was first piloted in three districts Foni Bintang, Nianija and Wuli West and is subsequently being rolled out to the remaining seventeen districts, with a bi-monthly cash transfer of D3,000.00 and behavioural change activities to approximately 15,000 extreme poor households for a period of 18 months.

“It is something we deliberated on and it is something we have actually been thinking through. We have even done some studies looking at how to target urban poor, but as you have seen, we are progressing, after starting in the poorest districts,” Dadzie said.

She explained that data shows that while urban poverty is high, there is still more rural poverty across the country, and asked the Gambia Government to also invest in the program by providing cash as well. She however acknowledged that Government has shown high commitment to the program and both agencies they work with are present at the office of the Vice President.

She explained that they travel across the length and breadth of The Gambia because they want to see for themselves the hard work that is put into the planning and rolling out of the cash transfers that is actually happening.

Dadzie further added that they were able to meet with many communities who have received for the first time, these cash transfers.

“I have been very impressed by what I have seen because most people mainly women, will tell you they know why they are there, and know how much money they will be getting and what they will invest it on and how much they will save,” she said; that this is very impressive and shows that the project is doing a great job of discussing with beneficiaries, the importance of the program and how it can affect their lives. She was however quick to say that everything is being monitoring to ensure that the right people get the money and the payment service providers (PSP) are efficient.

For the extension of the project as urged by most beneficiaries, she said this started since the Covid-19 pandemic with “Nafa Quick” were seventy seven thousand households had access to cash.

“The amount I will tell you is much higher than most West African countries. So, I see an opportunity here in The Gambia for us to really see change over time. Our commitment will never die out. The Bank has been with The Gambia for a long time and it will continue to be like that. But I encourage people to take the efforts into their own hands, and expand and improve themselves.”

The implementing partners of the program are NaNA, the Directorate of Social Welfare (DSW), whilst the Department of Community Development (DCD), implement The Gambia Social Safety Net Project (GSSNP), which is jointly funded by the World Bank and the Government of The Gambia.