Building a stronger social protection system amid a global pandemic

UNICEF and The Gambia government launch relief aid for the most underprivileged families as part of broader plans to enhance a social protection system in The Gambia.

Abdoulie Sey
UNICEF and government staff launch COVID-19 relief aid programme
UNICEF/UN07380/Abdoulie
07 July 2020

Up to 1000 vulnerable families with children under five in the North Bank, Central River, and West Coast regions of The Gambia have received food aid and will be provided with cash transfers to support their sustenance during the COVID-19 pandemic. UNICEF and The Gambia government launched the social protection response to COVID-19 in June 2020. Each family received a 50kg bag of rice, five liters of cooking oil, and, starting July 2020, a monthly cash allowance of D1000 for three months.

“COVID-19 restrictions have reduced the earning power of many vulnerable families,” said Fatou Kinteh, Minister of Women, Children and Social Welfare. “That is why UNICEF is supporting us – the Ministry of Women, Children and Social Welfare – to provide relief aid to some of these families.”

Bags of rice packed at launch of UNICEF and government COVID-19 relief aid programme
UNICEF/UN07146/Abdoulie

The social protection response to COVID-19 which was first launched in Kerewan, North Bank Region, and later in the Central River and West Coast regions, is part of the core pillars of UNICEF The Gambia’s COVID-19 Response Priorities: Support families to cover their needs and care for their children.

“A critical pillar of our COVID-19 response is to ensure that no child is left behind”, said Sandra Lattouf, UNICEF The Gambia Representative. “The COVID-19 pandemic has put a strain on many families’ source of livelihoods due to loss of jobs and other sources of income for families. So, we must find ways to ensure that these families do not go hungry.”

UNICEF The Gambia Representative speaks at launch of COVID-19 relief aid
UNICEF/UN07310/Abdoulie

Our idea of a social protection system is one that guarantees a fair chance in life for every child.

Sandra Lattouf, UNICEF The Gambia Representative

The social protection intervention is an important step in the operationalization of a broad support UNICEF is providing to the government through several ministries, institutions, and local government structures to enhance the social protection system in The Gambia. UNICEF envisages that the success of this pilot programme will inspire a government-led social protection system that addresses the needs of vulnerable children and their families.

“Our idea of a social protection system is one that guarantees a fair chance in life for every child”, Sandra said. “We launched the social protection response to COVID-19 with the hope that it will push us all – partners and stakeholders – to do more for vulnerable families.”

UNICEF works with The Gambia government and development partners to push for a strong and sustainable social protection system. Together with partners, UNICEF works across an array of pillars to advocate for the strengthening of social protection systems, public finance for children, and implementation of child-friendly social protection programs.