Persons with Disabilities Not Enough Benefit from Social Welfare Programs in Four Nigerian States – Survey

A new survey conducted in four northwestern states of Nigeria has revealed that persons with disabilities (PWDs) are the least beneficiaries of various national social protection programs in these states.

This is despite the fact that people with disabilities are among the most vulnerable and neglected groups of people.

The survey, which was conducted in Jigawa, Kaduna, Kano and Zamfara states, aimed to determine the level of inclusion and participation of persons with disabilities in social protection policies, programs and processes.

The Inclusive Friends Association (IFA) piloted the evaluation with support from Save the Children, Action Against Hunger (AHH) and the Child Development Grants Program (CDGP).

Released on Monday, the four-month “situational analysis” reflected the widening social inclusion gap for persons with disabilities in Nigeria.

The survey was mainly aimed at providing insight into the awareness of people with disabilities and their accessibility to social protection.

While approximately 90% of people with disabilities in the four states have little or no knowledge of social welfare programs, leaders of the disability movement in the state say less than 1% of people with disabilities benefit from both state and national social protection programs, according to the report. .

“There is an urgent need to review and revise the life cycle of various social protection programs to ensure equal coverage and participation of persons with disabilities,” the IFA Executive Director said, while presenting the findings of the survey in Abuja.

She recommended that the data from the assessment be used as an instrument to “mainstream and capture disability needs in Nigeria”.

Social protection

Nigeria is the biggest contributor to the global poverty index.

As of 2018, Nigeria is the country with the highest number of people living in extreme poverty.

The World Poverty Clock 2020 revealed that more than half of Nigeria’s 200 million people live below the international poverty line.

The implications of this situation are even more worrying for the already vulnerable segments of the population, mainly represented by children, women, the elderly and people with disabilities.

Since the return of democracy in 1999, successive government administrations, in an effort to reduce poverty, have implemented various intervention programs which were not sustainable as they were discontinued after each regime.

The administration of President Muhammadu Buhari, in 2016, took a step to institutionalize social protection programs and a National Social Protection Policy (NSPP) was formulated.

According to the policy, social protection is “a mix of policies and programs designed for individuals and households across the life cycle to prevent and reduce poverty and socio-economic shocks by promoting and improving means of subsistence and a dignified life”.

Among the main objectives of the NSPP are the reduction of poverty among those vulnerable to poverty and the empowerment of those vulnerable to economic shocks.

One of its main mandates also includes the development of a national social registry database for poor and vulnerable households.

National Social Investment Programs (NSIPs), coordinated by the National Social Investment Office (NSIO), are a key element of the policy.

The NSIP consists of programs such as N-Power, National School Feeding Program, Cash Transfer Programs, among others.


While accurate data is scarcely available, a report by the World Health Organization (WHO) and the World Bank in 2011, stated that 30 million Nigerians have some form of physical disability or the other.

According to the IFA, approximately 63% of disabled adults in Nigeria are unemployed and 30% of out-of-school children are disabled.

People with disabilities are among the most vulnerable people in our society due to their dependence on others for care and support or due to their social isolation, where they live or the nature of their disability.


Although anyone can be a victim of violence, abuse or neglect, people with disabilities are at great risk. And of all people with disabilities, women and girls with disabilities are at even greater risk.

In an attempt to remedy the situation, last January Nigeria enacted the Disability Discrimination Prohibition Bill, after more than 20 years of advocacy by notable Nigerians including David Anyeale. , a disability rights activist and executive director of the Center for Citizens with Disabilities (CCD).

But more than two years after the law was signed, many Nigerians living with disabilities say there is still a long way to go to legal recognition and respect by Nigeria.

The government that approved the law literally helped break it.

Obviously, social protection programs and policies are particularly crucial for the daily lives of people with disabilities.

But the survey results in the four Focal States revealed a gross marginalization of people with disabilities, coupled with low awareness.

Although they generally face greater barriers to education, health, transportation and other services, the survey found that people with disabilities are continually denied inclusive social and economic opportunities.

Survey results

The survey relied on interviews with people with disabilities, leaders of Disabled People’s Organizations (DPOs), government officials and key informants in the four states.

According to the results, approximately 90% of respondents have little or no knowledge of social welfare systems in their various states, and disability movement leaders claim that less than 1% of the disability population benefits both state and national welfare programs. .

Even those who benefit from it, their additional disability costs are excluded; thus having little or no impact in lifting them out of poverty, the report says.

“For example in Jigawa, although there is a social security scheme for people with disabilities, the determination and assessment of disability eligibility is extremely weak and leaves room for inclusion and exclusion of errors. “, notes the report, adding that the program does not pay. beware of invisible disabilities.

The N-power program is most popular among people with disabilities, but less than 15% of respondents know of beneficiaries with disabilities in their state.

In April 2020, the National Cash Transfer Office (NCTO) confirmed to ICIR that approximately 1,126,211 poor and vulnerable households currently benefit from the conditional cash transfer from the federal government.

But the survey results showed that only 5% of respondents know people with disabilities receiving the cash transfer.

Two months ago, the National Coordinator of the National Social Safety Nets Coordination Office (NASSCO), Apera Iorwa, said as many as 30 million poor and vulnerable Nigerians had been registered in the National Social Register (NSR) between 2018 and February 2021.

Meanwhile, out of 5.7 million poor and vulnerable Nigerians in the NSR as of December 31, 2020, less than 5% are persons with disabilities, or about 274,000 people, according to the survey.

State-Level Realities

At the state level, only 10% of people with disabilities and their leaders are aware of the social register.

Jigawa recorded the highest number of interventions that people with disabilities are aware of and benefit from. Only the state has a specific disability allowance targeting only disabled people.

All four target states except Zamfara have an existing inclusive education policy, but children still attend inclusive and non-inclusive schools.

In Jigawa and Kano, there are disability laws, while Kaduna and Zamfara laws are at the stage of legislation.

Beyond politics, inclusive employment and economic empowerment practices are weak in all four states, with Zamfara recording the worst.


The report strongly recommended that the data instrument used for the social registry be revised to capture and integrate data on disability and possibly disability needs rather than holding a separate data collection process on disability.

Improving the institutional capacity of the Offices for Persons with Disabilities (OPD) in the area of ​​social protection was recommended.

The report indicates that there is an urgent need for an increased inclusive outreach and communication strategy.

In order to mitigate the additional costs incurred by persons with disabilities, the report suggests that establishing a stand-alone disability welfare scheme is global best practice that should be adopted between states and at the national level.

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Joel C. Hicks