The Gambia: Reducing hunger through cash transfers

Erratic rainfall, failed crops, and volatile prices for basic household food supplies in 2014 - 2015 continue to affect families in The Gambia, one of Africa's smallest countries. With a population of 1.8 million, many families have struggled over the past year to put food on the table. While preliminary forecasts for the 2015 harvest indicate a significant recovery in cereal production, access to food remains a challenge due to rising prices.

The IFRC has supported The Gambia Red Cross Society in working with its partners to deliver immediate aid to thousands of people, however, more than 100,000 people are still estimated to be facing a food security crisis. Child malnutrition remains of grave concern, particularly in the North Bank and Central River Regions, where chronic malnutrition rates surpass acceptable levels.

The IFRC launched an Emergency Appeal of 1.5 million Swiss francs to support The Gambia Red Cross in providing support to more than 63,000 people. The Appeal remains drastically underfunded at 7 per cent, despite receiving support from partners including the Canadian Red Cross, the Japanese Red Cross Society, and the Red Cross of Monaco.

A donation of 661,000 Swiss francs from the European Commission (ECHO) supported staff and volunteers from The Gambia Red Cross in implementing a cash transfer programme to 16,800 people over three months. A house-to-house nutritional and hygiene promotion campaign also reached more than12,750 people.

Gambia food insecurity

Before distributing cash, The Gambia Red Cross Society, with the support of communities, identifies those families most in need of support. Staff and volunteers visit the families to verify their living conditions. If the families meet the criteria, they receive three vouchers to receive cash distributions. Photo: Amadou Barry, The Gambia Red Cross Society  


The Gambia food insecurity

To receive their cash transfer, beneficiaries must present their voucher and then proceed through varification check-points. Photo: Momodou Fofana, The Gambia Red Cross Society


The Gambia food insecurity 

To ensure accuracy, those receiving cash transfers are encouraged to recount the funds they have received, with the support of community leaders, prior to returning home. Photo: Momodou Fofana. 


The Gambia food insecurity

The Gambia Red Cross Society, with the support of the IFRC, works with community leaders to identify the most vulnerable families. Here, a community member conducts a wealth ranking on behalf of families in Sare Alpha. Based on the targeting and post verification, 2,100 beneficiaries were identified in the various regions, with each receiving 3350 Gambian Dalasi ($83 USD) per month to complement livelihood activities and to purchase other nutritious food for a well balance diet. Photo: Amadou Barry, The Gambia Red Cross Society

The Gambia, food insecurity

In some regions, vendors came to the distribution sites to make it easier for families to purchase food supplies after they had received their cash transfer, such as in Kalem Sain, Central River Region, as seen here. Red Cross volunteers would also visit families to share nutritional information and promote proper hygiene. Photo: Amadou Barry, The Gambia Red Cross Society


The Gambia food insecurity

The food security team after the third distribution in Central River Region which reached over 8,500 beneficiaries (1,050 families). Working closely with partners, The Gambia Red Cross Society distribution team is composed of members from the National Disaster Management Agency, The Gambia Bureau of Statistics, the National Nutritional Agency, and the IFRC. Photo Credit: Momodou Forfana, The Gambia Red Cross Society