UN, FG tackle poverty through social protection initiative



The United Nations, through its organizations, UNICEF, UNDP, ILO, and WFP, in partnership with the Federal Government, said it was committed to tackling poverty and improving health through social development in the country.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN)  reports that the stakeholders made this known on Friday during a joint programme themed “Scaling up and Sustaining Social Protection System in Nigeria” in Abuja.

NAN reports that the programme was initiated in Sokoto State with 6,000 beneficiaries and funded by the Joint SDG Fund.

According to Mr Matthias Schmale, UN Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator Nigeria, the joint programme is contributing to poverty reduction, good health, well being and reducing inequalities in Nigeria.

“This initiative is tackling 3 SDGs: no poverty, Zero hunger and good health/well-being, if we want to have social impact, then social protection is a must.”

“We might not be able to fix the economy quickly but arguably we might be able to lift poverty and this is what the initiative aims at achieving.

He also added that the social protection should be done with dignity which brings about cash transfer to beneficiaries.

“Cash transfer is an important mechanism because it gives people choices on how to spend their money,

“I was pleased to hear from the government officials that they recognise the value of supporting the vulnerable people by cash.”

“This support has transformed individuals and the key support measures I have noted is cash transfer to about 6,000 vulnerable people, including 600 pregnant women.

“Although it’s a small scale intervention, it’s potentially a transformative one which we all can learn from it and scale it up.” Schmale said.

He also urged the government to prioritise social protection work by putting money into it while noting that the UN would try and replicate the support in other states.

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Dr Faizate Busari, social protection specialist UNICEF, said the key area of the project was to kickstart policies around social protection.

“It is important to integrate different discipline to health access, education and social services generally and ensure that the state level, where social protection is crucial, have the right policy,

Mr Clement Agba, Minister of State for Budget and National Planning, said that the project/ funds had a positive impact on the country’s social sector, especially the review of the national social protection policy.

He appreciatef the UN organization for efforts made in ensuring that the funds were adequately utilised in achieving the programme,

Agba added that FG was committed to ending poverty and establishing social protection policy in Nigeria.

Mr Mukhtar Sani, Secretary National Joint Association for People Living with Disabilities (PWDs) in Sokoto State who is also a beneficiary, said that the intervention had touched their lives.

“We now have access to free health care services through the registration of PWDs in various clinics so that they can access health care services,”

“We also have access to quality education in the state, unlike before where children with disabilities are not in school, now they are enrolled in school to study.” Sani said.