UN spends $2m on social protection in Nigeria

The United Nations, through its Joint Program on Social Protection, has spent $2 million in Nigeria, said Faizat Badmus-Busari, Head of Joint Projects on Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in Nigeria.

The program was funded by “the joint SDG fund which is provided to different United Nations secretariats, obtained from donations from different countries…they provided us with 2 million dollars to implement this project, the project has been implemented at the federal and state level,” she said. .

According to Ms. Badmus-Busari, the $2 million was invested in cash transfers, capacity building, health insurance and operating and overhead costs.

She noted that 600 pregnant women out of the 6,000 program beneficiaries each received N5,300 in cash transfers as transport reimbursement.

The social protection project was jointly implemented by four United Nations agencies: World Food Program (WFP), The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), the International Labor Organization (ILO) and the United Nations Development Program (UNDP).

Faizat Badmus-Busari, Head of SDGN Joint Projects in Nigeria (PHOTO CREDIT: Chiamaka Okafor/ Premium Times)

The two-year project, which ended in Abuja on Friday, supported the institutionalization of social protection in Nigeria by developing a Social Protection Bill.

Matthias Schmale, United Nations Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator in Nigeria, speaking at the event, said he hopes the Nigerian government will continue to prioritize social protection; “it means having a clear policy; there is a national policy that needs to be replicated at the state level, putting money into it…”

When asked if cash transfers would be the magic bullet to lift Nigerians out of poverty, he said cash transfers were just one of the measures needed. If Nigeria is to lift the nearly 100 million people living below the poverty line out of poverty, the key is the economy.

“We have to find ways to revitalize the economy, that means creating jobs because social protection, at the end of the day, is a measure in the absence of jobs and I think the main thing is to fix the economy and it’s not going to be done in the short term,” Schmale said, adding that lifting 100 million people out of poverty will take a few years if we take it seriously.

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Matthias Schmale, United Nations Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator
Matthias Schmale, United Nations Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator (PHOTO CREDIT: Chiamaka Okafor/ Premium Times)

A beneficiary of the project and secretary of the joint national association of people with disabilities, Mukhtar Sani-Doki, said that the project had had an impact on the lives of people with disabilities.

He said people living with disabilities have always been included in the project and have access to free health care services and education.

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“Before, we had a lot of children with disabilities in Sokoto state who were out of school, but now they are enrolled in school,” Mr Sani-Doki said.

Peter Hawkins, the UNICEF country representative, said the project tries to ensure that at the state level, where social protection is crucial, states have the right policy and mechanism in place to be able to assist women and children to access services in a more user-friendly way.

Chiamaka Okafor is a journalist at Premium Times in partnership with report for the worldwhich pairs local newsrooms with talented emerging journalists to report on under-reported issues around the world.

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