UNICEF, Vice President of The Gambia underscore need to strengthen the country’s social protection system in response to COVID-19
The Vice President of The Gambia, Dr Isatou Touray and Gordon Jonathan Lewis, UNICEF The Gambia Representative, have both agreed on the need for a strong social protection system to assuage the plight of vulnerable families and children. The two senior officials discussed this, and other issues related to the rights and welfare of women and children, today during a courtesy call on the Vice President by Mr Lewis.
The Vice President recognized the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on affected families, especially in rural areas. She said these families need urgent support through cash transfers and the provision of other essential services. “I know UNICEF has done lot of work in this area (cash transfers) to support vulnerable children and their families,” Dr Touray said. “So, we are looking forward to more support and stronger collaboration to help vulnerable families.”
VP Touray also commended UNICEF for the agency’s “remarkable record” in supporting women and children in The Gambia. “UNICEF has always been working with the government to support children’s rights and development. You have been actively engaged in making lots of programs successful; thank you for the support and strong collaboration.”
Mr Lewis said UNICEF will continue to support the efforts of The Gambia Government and partners to improve the living conditions of vulnerable women and children. “Rest assured of our continuous support in strengthening the social protection system, especially in managing external shocks such as COVID-19,” the UNICEF Representative stated. “We have supported the development of the Social Protection Single Registry system which we hope will play a pivotal role in ensuring stronger coordination, improved efficiency and swift delivery of social protection services in the country.”
Over the years, UNICEF has championed the upscaling of social protection services in the country, including technical support in the setting up of the National Social Protection Secretariat. UNICEF also supported the development of the country’s maiden social protection policy and implementation plan. With funding from the EU, UNICEF successfully implemented the BReST cash transfer programme through the National Nutrition Agency. Since the COVID-19 outbreak, the agency has also been working with the Ministry of Women, Children and Social Welfare to provide social protection services, including cash transfers, to 1000 highly vulnerable families with children under the age of five years.
Mr Lewis also applauded the government’s decision to reopen schools and assured the Vice President that UNICEF will continue to support the Ministry of Basic and Secondary Education to ensure that schools not only open their doors, but that students are also learning.
UNICEF promotes the rights and wellbeing of every child, in everything we do. Together with our partners, we work in 190 countries and territories to translate that commitment into practical action, focusing special effort on reaching the most vulnerable and excluded children, to the benefit of all children, everywhere.
For more information about UNICEF and its work for children, visit www.unicef.org/gambia.