UNICEF works with the government of The Gambia to ensure that every child has a fair chance in life.
The Gambia is ranked 130th out of 157 countries in the 2018 World Bank Human Capital Index. This rating implies that Gambian children are likely to accomplish only 40 per cent of their overall potential in their working lives. The primary cause of this reality is attributed to poverty and inadequate access to basic health and educational services, particularly in the very early years of life. To address the existing challenges and alleviate the social and economic impact of poverty, adequate human capital investment and tackling the root causes of poverty are required.
In 2016, the government of The Gambia launched its first ever National Social Protection Policy, with an accompanying Implementation Plan. The primary focus of the policy is to build a robust and sustainable social protection coordination and delivery mechanism, as well as provide a basis for creating an adequate and sustainable fiscal space that caters to the needs of the most vulnerable in society.
Our Social Protection programme is hinged on the national social protection policy and responds to Gambia's National Development Plan. It aims to support the efforts of the government of The Gambia to strengthen capacities in social protection coordination and expand social assistance for the poorest and most vulnerable populations in the country, with a keen focus on children. The primary objective of the programme is to improve policies and social protection systems for children, increase the efficiency of the allocation of public finances to key sectors, and generate evidence to drive social policy advocacy in the interest of all children in the country.
Strategies employed in responding are: evidence generation, knowledge management, capacity-building, awareness-raising and policy advocacy. We work with the government and key development partners to establish and support a robust and inclusive national Social Protection Secretariat under the Office of the Vice President, and technical support to the Ministry of Women, Children and Social Welfare, among others. This is aimed at achieving the gradual expansion of universal social protection programmes benefitting the most vulnerable children.
Our programme focuses on three main areas of action.
Strengthening Social protection systems: We support the strengthening of social protection leadership and governance to design and deliver effective and efficient child friendly social protection programmes. This includes the support to the government to strengthen their capacity of the National Social Protection Secretariat and establish a National Social Protection Single Registry that is fully integrated with the Civil Registry and Vital Statistics system.
Social protection programming: We work with the Government and development partners to advocate for and mobilize resources to implement child friendly social protection programmes. The goal is to support the introduction of new social protection programmes and promote the expansion of existing initiatives to address the key priority areas such as nutrition and health. This will help raise the profile of social protection and human capital development for increased government investment and ownership.
Public finance for children: We work strategically with the government particularly National Assembly to help in enhancing their capacity and providing them with technical assistance to learn best practices and use evidence to advocate for increased government investment and efficiency in the social sectors. In addition, we also support the respective committee of the National Assembly to routinely conduct monitoring mission to engage with service providers and communities to promote accountability and transparency in the social sectors. We also support the Gambia Bureau of Statistics in data collection on issues affecting children, such as the monetary and multidimensional measures of poverty.
Our support to the Government of The Gambia focuses on strengthening the institutional and operational framework of social protection coordination and service delivery for the most vulnerable in society with a keen eye on children. Our collaborative efforts have registered significant results, and these include:
The formulation and approval of the Gambia’s first National Social Protection Policy (2015-2025) and Implementation Plan (2015-2020)
• The establishment of a National Social Protection Steering Committee
• The approval of a National Social Protection Secretariat
• The identification and articulation of social protection as a priority in the National Development Plan
• The implementation of a cash transfer social protection programme
• The gradual and steady increase of funding to the key social sectors of health and education in recent approved budgets