Nigerian Government to coordinate the effective delivery of social safety net interventions for the poor

Monday 28 March 2016

By James Bigila, Media Coordinator

Recently, the Federal government of Nigeria in collaboration with the World Bank and the UK department for International Development (DFID), through the Child Development Grant Program (CDGP) organised a 3 day social protection cross learning summit (SPEC 2016) with the theme “Evidence and learning in improving Social protection in Nigeria”.

The summit was held as part of ongoing efforts by the Federal government of Nigeria through the office of the Vice President towards the implementation of the National Social protection Reform agenda and the World Bank assisted Youth Employment and Social Support Operations (YESSO) of the Federal Ministry of Finance.

The summit was aimed at sharing social protection practices and experiences of other countries in relation to Nigeria and also inform stakeholders of the Child Development Grant Program, its progress and baseline report. It was also and opportunity for stakeholders to create a forum for dialogue on reformation and refinement of Social Protection practice and policies in Nigeria.

The Child Development Grant program is a 5 year DFID funded project towards tackling poverty and hunger and reducing malnutrition in children in Jigawa and Zamfara States Nigeria. Save the Children is leading the INGO Consortium delivering the program in partnership with Action Against Hunger (ACF). The program provides 48 Million pounds (GBP) which aims to tackle poverty to poor and nursing mothers through monthly cash transfers of 3,500 NGN (equivalent of 12 pounds a month) to all pregnant women from the moment their pregnancy is confirmed until the child reaches the age of 2 years. Speaking during the opening ceremony of the 3 day summit, the Federal Minister of Finance, Mrs Kemi Adeosu represented by the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry, Mr. Mahmoud Isah Dutse declared the summit open and appreciated the work of development partners in tackiling poverty and reducing the numbers of the poor and vulnerable through the Child Development Grant program, CDGP.

Also speaking during the opening Ceremony, the Minister of Budget and National Planning, Senator Udo Udoma, stated that the Federal Government will reduce poverty in the country to the barest Minimum. He said, “the Federal Government is currently articulating a reform agenda for the social protection sector as a means of ensuring inclusive growth and poverty reduction”.

Driving this reform is the National Social Safety Nets Coordinating Office under the office of the Vice President with the responsibility of co-ordinating all social safety net initiatives in the country. The NASCO is leveraging existing experiences in the country as well as global best practices to improve the processes that will drive progressive change delivery. Explaining the objective of the programme, the minister said it would assist to influence, design and implement social safety nets in the country for greater impact.

Save the Children's representative Mercy Jibrin, while speaking to participants on the Chiild Development grant program in Nigeria, shared the lessons of unconditional Cash transfers and the Child Development Grant program in Jigawa and Zamfara State Nigeria.

The Federal Government received commendation from participants for articulating a national social protection reform agenda designed to protect the poor and vulnerable from the effects of fiscal crunch through systematic mitigation of the challenges of poverty and inequality in Nigeria.

Hon Mrs Mariam Uwais, the representative of the Vice President presents guidelines on CBT and single register of Poor and Vulnerable households in Nigeria

The program when fully implemented will provide the Nigerian government with a single register on the basis of Community Based Targeting (CBT) which will ensure proper identification of beneficiaries while reducing inclusive and exclusive errors and also financial institutions will be providing user friendly services to the poor through the social protection policy and its partners.

Also speaking in his presentation, the Chairman, House committee on Poverty Alleviation, Hon. Mahmud Wudil said,” The Nigerian senate recently passed social protection laws to take care of the poor and vulnerable in Nigeria into law”. He said the amount provided for in the budget represents 9% of the National Budget recently passed into law.

Hon. Wudil, speaking during his presentation at the summit

He also promised legislative backing of the Nigerian parliament to ensure the Social Safety Nets and its implementation in Nigeria.

The summit was attended by officials from the World Bank, Save the Children, Ministry of Budget and National Planning, Federal Ministry of Finance and Permanent secretaries for Health and commissioners of health from the 36 states of the federation. State governments were encouraged to cooperate with the Federal government in implementing such comprehensive social protection agenda in their respective states.

The second day had panel discussions with panelists discussing the solutions and issues with the Social Protection Safety Nets to be deployed by the Federal Government. During panel discussions it was also revealed that about 9 percent of the National Budget has been set aside for Social protection for the poor.

Dr. David Olayemi, Director of Advocacy and Campaigns for Save the Children Nigeria, speaking during panel discussions revealed that “According to UNICEF data, 79% of Nigerian Children belong to at least 1 of 70 variables used to measure poverty in Nigeria.”

Dr. David Olayemi, speaking during the panel discussions on Social Safety nets in Nigeria

He also stressed the need for government to do more towards the implementation of the policies put in place to ensure beneficiaries and Nigerian children are reached via the social safety nets put in place by Government.

At the end of the 3 day summit, participants supported the ongoing efforts to conclude the National Social protection policy anchored on protective, promotive and productive measures that will promote, deploy and ensure the sustainability of the program. Participants also noted the need to guard against the total dependency on cash transfers while emphasizing transformative and supportive graduation into sustainable livelihoods.

The Guidelines on Community based Targeting and single register of poor and vulnerable households was launched by the representative of the Vice President Prof Yemi Osinbajo, Hon. Mrs Mariam Uwais.

She said the Federal Government through the Ministry of Budget and National planning is in the final stage of developing a National Social Protection policy framework. The framework will guide the social investment intervention from the office of the Vice president.

Cross section of participants at the event

The Social Protection Safety net of the Federal Government has been formed as a result of the efforts of Save the Children, Action Against Hunger, DFID, the World Bank and The Federal Ministry of Finance towards reducing the numbers of extremely poor and vulnerable Nigerians towards sustaining better livelihoods in urban and rural areas.