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 FGN, UNICEF, & partners signs  Universal Child Benefit on social protection :…increases spending by 2 percent

The Government of Nigeria, the United Nations Children’s Fund, UNICEF, and partners have  reaffirmed their commitment to advancing social protection aligned with essential services for comprehensive support.

A communique was signed to introduce Universal Child Benefit and increase public spending in social protection by 2 percent aiming to reduce multidimensional poverty and promote equitable development.

Raising from the 3rd Edition of the Social Protection Cross Learning Summit on the 28th, June 2024, in Abuja, the stakeholders  emphasized the critical need for strengthened social protection system to address the pressing issues of poverty.

It is on record that, Nigeria is the most populous country in Africa and faces significant challenges in human capital development, deprivations in health, education, nutrition, water, hygiene, sanitation, and child protection, “This situation underscores the urgency for a comprehensive and effective social protection strategies.

The Minister of Finance and Coordinating Minister of Economy, Mr. Wale Edun, explained that, the response to the challenges, was the introduction of a cash transfer programme, giving 25,000 Naira over a three-month period to poor and vulnerable households, adding that ” the initiative was meant to alleviate immediate economic pressures and mitigate the socio-economic impact of recent economic reforms.

“Our goal is to create a comprehensive support network that addresses the multifaceted needs of children and families, ultimately leading to improved outcomes in health, education, and overall well-being. We must work together to bridge gaps and strengthen coordination,”  said Mr. Wale Edun,  emphasizing the importance of integrated social protection systems. 

Speaking on behalf of the Social Protection Development Partners Group, the United Nations Children’s Fund, UNICEF, Representative in Nigeria, Cristian Munduate, stated,  “Social protection is crucial in realizing the rights of every child. Child-sensitive social protection is key to ensuring that every child reaches their full potential “.

” While commending the Government for significant strides for the development of several programmes and single registry,  however,  Munduate, stressed the need for stronger linkages between social protection and essential social services with focus on health, education, and nutrition.”

According to her, Despite advancements, social protection coverage remains low, with only 7 percent of children covered. Coordination mechanisms are weak, leading to fragmentation and inefficiency. ”  Therefore, the summit aims to generate actionable insights and foster collaboration among key players to enhance coverage, coordination, and financing of social protection interventions “.  She said

The objectives of the Summit included,

Raise Awareness by, highlighting how social protection can mitigate poverty, enhance economic stability, and promote inclusive growth through social assistance (cash transfers), social security (health insurance), and labor market regulation).

Improve Delivery and Coordination, through Proposed measures to improve delivery and coordination mechanisms for effective coverage and impact of social protection programs.

Commitment to Financing, by getting  government bodies, international organizations, and private sector stakeholders on financing social protection initiatives committed through innovative financing mechanisms.

Julie Ekong

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