BReST Project Provides Monthly Cash Transfers to Vulnerable Households in The Gambia

Monthly payments mitigate food insecurity and malnutrition

A mother with a young child receives BReST funding
15 November 2017

UNICEF, with funding support from the European Union, has partnered with the Government of The Gambia through the National Nutrition Agency (NaNA) and the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare, to ensure that lactating mothers receive D600 monthly payments to mitigate food insecurity and malnutrition in The Gambia.

This project, dubbed ‘Building Resilience through Social Transfers for Nutrition Security in The Gambia (BReST), aims to simultaneously address acute malnutrition and resilience building strategies through cash transfers. A total of 5,500 lactating mothers in the North Bank, Central River, and Upper River Regions of The Gambia, were targeted to benefit from the project, receiving monthly cash transfers and comprehensive nutrition education in 10 health facilities across the country.

The first payment cycle kicked off in Albreda in the North Bank Region, leading the team to health facilities in Essau, Kuntair and Ngayen Sanjal before the national launching of the project at the Basse Health Centre, reaching almost 500 women in the first half of that month’s payment cycle. By the end of the registration period in October 2017, a total number of 6,160 beneficiaries were enrolled, and are currently benefiting from the project.

The rationale for the project is based on evidence that the period from pregnancy to 24 months of age of the child - first 1000 days of life - is a crucial window of opportunity for reducing malnutrition and its adverse effects in children. Furthermore, this period provides prospects to deliver information, education and skills to mothers, and thus maximizes health benefits for the child, mother and the wider household. The overall objective of the project is to improve the nutritional status of lactating women and children under 2 years in rural areas in the target regions.

The BReST Project will be a catalyst of change at the community and household levels through improving knowledge and behaviours on better nutrition, sanitation, and hygiene practices whilst simultaneously building financial literacy of mothers.

Since 2012, UNICEF has supported the Government of The Gambia in establishing an inclusive social protection system through capacity development programmes for various national stakeholders including the development of a Social Protection Strategy and the National Social Protection Policy 2015 – 2025. The BReST Project, therefore, is an excellent piloting opportunity to potentially scale up social protection programming as part of the implementation of the National Social Protection Policy.

The BReST Project is a UNICEF Project funded by the European Union and jointly implemented by the National Nutrition Agency and the Department of Social Welfare.