No fewer than one million Nigerians are to benefit from the Federal Government’s COVID-19 Cash Transfer Project which aims to lift the urban poor affected by the pandemic out of poverty.
The Vice President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, said this on Tuesday in Abuja while inaugurating the COVID-19 Rapid Response Registration (RRR) Cash Transfer Project.
According to him, the project is a national initiative to build a shock responsive framework for capturing and registering the urban poor and vulnerable populations across Nigeria.
Osinbajo said that the new register complements the already existing platforms under the World Bank supported National Social Safety nets Project (NASSP).
“As of December 31, 2020, we have identified and registered about 24.3 million poor and vulnerable individuals into the National Social Register; equivalent to about 5.7 million households.
“Through this project, we are currently injecting about N10 billion directly into the hands of about two million poor and vulnerable households every month.”
According to him, the initiative is about the largest evidence-based effort by any administration on poverty reduction and its impact on the lives of the poor is huge.
“This is by way of improving the livelihoods of the beneficiaries through enhanced household purchasing power, smoothening consumption, increasing savings and acquisition of household assets and improving the local economy.”
Osinbajo said that the RRR was designed to focus mainly on the urban poor wards selected using scientifically validated methods of satellite remote sensing technology, machine learning algorithm, and big data analysis.
“This social protection method of targeting is the first strategy to be developed and tested in the Sub-Saharan Africa region and Nigeria will be the first country for its implementation.
“With the RRR, which uses a wholly technology-based approach, we are primed to achieve an end-to-end digital foot-print in cash transfers for the urban poor.
“Which also helps us achieve our financial inclusion policy under the Enhancing Financial Innovation and Access programme (EFInA).”
News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the first set of 3,115 beneficiaries have already received N5,000 each cash transfer and the programme will continue until it reaches the one million target.
The cash transfers will be received by the beneficiaries for six months.
Also at the event, the Minister of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development, Sadiya Farouq, said that the RRR would provide the gateway to many social development initiatives.
“This is because it uses innovative advancements in technology, in combination with ground-truthing processes, to generate an early response system.
“By design, the register also links to other databases such as banking information of respondents and national identity numbers.
“It is a process that is advanced in unifying national databank towards the delivery of social development in Nigeria.
“There is no doubt that in future, as has been demonstrated in the previous presentation, we will be reverting to the process used here and the register itself, to aid emergency assistance and support social protection activities in Nigeria.”
According to her, with the inauguration of the project, the Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development now has the database that can provide evidence for impact tracing for most social development projects in Nigeria.
In his remarks, Mr Shubham Chaudhuri, the World Bank Country Director said the COVID crisis hit Nigeria very hard, especially on the socio economic front.
“Even in the absence of the crisis, we were projecting that perhaps another seven million Nigerians were at risk of falling into poverty over the next two years.
“With the COVID crisis and the economic pressures that have resulted, we are now projecting that that number could rise to close to 18 million.
“So, I think it should be pretty obvious that this kind of scale up effort is absolutely critical to the overall COVID response,” Chaudhuri said.
NAN reports that the target groups are small businesses, street vendors and petty traders as well as low-wage employed individuals and families.
It also covers daily labourers earning wages by engaging in construction and other forms of daily wage-based activities, employees of businesses involved in services and workers in different industries, and manufacturing firms.
Others are taxi drivers, street dwellers, orphans and vulnerable children, people living with disabilities, and vulnerable families living in slum areas.
The project provides a sustainable framework that supports humanitarian disaster risk response delivery system and shock response in future emergencies.