Positive behaviours, healthy children and strong families

UNICEF The Gambia, government partners expand the scope of a consolidated manual on key household practices to include more information related to child protection and welfare.

A communtiy worker makes a presentation on children on the move
08 October 2020

UNICEF and government partners have begun expanding the scope of a consolidated manual on key household practices to include more information related to child protection and welfare. The manual is an offshoot of the 4+4 programme, a community engagement approach that promotes key household practices to change behaviours and create demand for services. It integrates key behaviours such as exclusive breastfeeding, hand washing, early health-seeking behaviour, use of sugar-salt solution to reduce dehydration, and household water treatment.

Now, with the updating and expansion of the manual, more behaviours and practices are being incorporated. Birth registration, school enrolment and retention, female genital mutilation, child marriage, and uptake of immunization have all been included following a week of consultations in September, held in Mansakonko with more than 30 stakeholders from diverse institutions. The workshop, which came up with key messages on these practices, was supported by the UNICEF office in The Gambia. 

“The development of this harmonised tool definitely enhances the effective delivery of services and promotes better collaboration between stakeholders,” said Sanjally Trawally, the Deputy Director of Health Promotion and Education at the Ministry of Health. “This is expected to usher in positive change by connecting the duty bearer and communities, and creating a better avenue for community empowerment, collective action and participation.”

The Mansakonko forum, which was co-organised by the Ministry of Health and the Department of Community Development, was attended by several participants, including social workers, health, education, nutrition, and birth registration officers, community development workers, and members of regional multi-disciplinary facilitation teams.

“When finalised, the updated training manual will provide a standardized package for regional authorities to strengthen community structures, enhance participatory planning and foster dialogue around a common vision of essential care and protective norms and practices,” said Momat Jallow, UNICEF’s Communication for Development Officer. “The package also offers operational guides and engagement strategy for community workers.”

Following the Mansakonko consultations, some of the participants have been highlighting the significance of key behaviours that are been included in the manual.

“Early birth registration is the first step toward safeguarding lifelong protection," said Omar Sillah of the Birth Registration Unit. “Every parent should ensure their children's birth is registered and certificated.  A naming ceremony is incomplete without a birth certificate.”

“For inclusive and (accessible) education for all, no child should drop out of school either due to migration, special needs or any form of socio-cultural practices,” said Mbara Saine from the Ministry of Basic and Secondary Education.