The World Bank Group has approved a N98.5 billion (500 million dollars) credit line to enable the Federal Government achieve its social safety net programme for the poor and vulnerable.
According to a post on the bank’s website on Thursday the money is to assist the Nigerian government’s social intervention programme in the areas of job creation, school feeding, conditional cash transfer, entreprise programmes and education grants.
“In Nigeria, up to five million people, among the poorest and most vulnerable, will get access to social safety nets by 2021 through a 500 million dollars (N98.5 billion) International Development Association credit.
“This was approved today by the World Bank Group’s Board of Executive Directors.
“The Government of Nigeria will contribute 1.3 billion dollars (N256.1 billion) of its own budget to this National Social Safety Nets project (NASSP).
“This will lay the foundation for the establishment of the country’s first national social safety nets system,’’ it stated.
It quoted the World Bank Country Director in Nigeria, Mr Rachid Benmessaoud, as commending the federal government for dedicating a significant chunk of its budget to social protection in spite of challenging economic times.
“The sharp drop in oil revenues has shrunk its budget significantly. The federal government of Nigeria is investing in social protection to help mitigate the effect of the economic slowdown on the poor.
“Of key importance is the setup of an electronic national registry of poor and vulnerable households using state-of-the art methodologies to target those who need it the most,” he said.
Mrs Camilla Holmemo , the World Bank Task Team Leader for the project, said the programme was designed to protect the poorest against economic shocks while stimulating demand for health and education services.
“Social protection can have a significant impact on poverty reduction, both through the immediate effects of the cash transfers and the longer term investments in human and productive capital of targeted households,” she said.
The social safety programme aims to provide cash transfers to poor households identified through a Single Register.
The Single Register is meant to be the basis for selecting beneficiaries for targeted intervention programmes such as public work, skills for job and conditional cash transfers.
Statistics obtained from the Federal Ministry of Finance showed that so far the Single Register has a total of 1,435 communities and 35,561 households made up of 190,235 individuals from eight states alone.
Each targeted household will receive a base transfer of N5,000 while households among the most vulnerable will be eligible to an additional monthly benefit of N5,000 a month via conditional cash transfers.
Assistance will also be provided to support beneficiaries develop long-term livelihood opportunities.
The project will also offer incentives for participating statesthrough full federal financing of the targeted cash transfers.
Transparent targeting mechanisms will be put in place to ensure that the project reaches its intended beneficiaries, particularly women.
Citizen engagement will be a key to success and communities will be able to evaluate the quality of services they receive and voice their needs.