from All Africa
By Abimbola Akosile
Poverty is the major challenge facing Nigeria. Many people continue to suffer pronounced deprivation even as reforms continue. This condition if not addressed can create a divide that can engulf the country, according to the National Coordinator of the National Poverty Eradication Programme (NAPEP).
Expanding direct empowerment opportunities to the poor is the way for narrowing any divide, he said. The Federal Government is expected to assist states and communities to develop Poverty Solutions.
Global Poverty Facts
- Nearly 3 billion people live on less than $2 a day
- Over 1.1 billion people live on less than $1 a day
- Poverty, does not affect every region of the world equally.
- Sub-Saharan Africa is very significantly devastated by poverty, compared to the rest of the world
- In Sub-Saharan Africa around 50% of the people live on less than $1 a day.
- In South East Asia 37% of the people live on less than $1 a day
- In East Asia, about 17% of the people live on less than $1 a day.
- In Latin America, only about 11% live on less than $1 a day
- In North Africa only 2% of the people live on less than $1 a day
Conditional Cash Transfer
The Conditional Cash Transfer (CCT) is an innovation introduced by NAPEP to reach those categories of the poor that have not been reached by existing social protection efforts. It is a social transfer where by poor households are assisted to build their assets by means of investments in human capital.
Among the explanations to justify the new scheme in Nigeria are that a majority of current poverty eradication efforts, particularly of government, focus on supply side projects in education, health, infrastructure and micro credit for empowerment.
Conditional Cash Transfers are grants provided to selected poor households on the condition that they engage in investments in human capital such as investment in education or health. This not only provides the poor with funds but also assists them to break out of the cycle of poverty.
It reduces the transmission of poverty through the stimulation of demand on education and health. The NAPEP CCT is called
'In Care of the People' (COPE).
Goals - Objectives of CCT
The programme is expected to achieve the goals of NEEDS in line with the MDG of halving the proportion of people living in extreme poverty by 2015 through increasing demand of the poor for education, basic health, and engaging in income generating activities.
Its objectives include to reduce the inter-generational transfer of poverty, and to reduce the number of poor and vulnerable groups in the country by increasing their access to basic services.
Nigeria, as part of the international community is committed to achieving the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), including the commitment to halve poverty, by 2015. In Nigeria, large numbers of the poor are trapped in chronic, long-term poverty that is transmitted from generation to generation.
According to NAPEP, if efforts are not intensified to reduce these numbers of people, Nigeria will not be on track to achieving the MDGs. The anti-poverty group has programmes in place to reduce poverty levels among the economically active poor.
However, there are vulnerable groups which cannot participate in such programmes because they cannot meet the requirements for participation. Among these are women, children, older people and those with living disabilities.
The exclusion of the vulnerable population has given birth to social transfers as new strategies for addressing poverty. Social Transfers are an aspect of social protection that put in place systems to protect and transform the livelihoods of citizens, particularly the vulnerable and chronically poor. They are regular and predictable grants, usually in the form of cash that are provided to vulnerable households or individuals.
The CCT Coordinated by NAPEP is expected to be community-driven, in partnership with the States, supported by the World Bank, and to involve Stakeholders including MDG office, SMEDAN and other MDAs.
Community Driven Devt (CDD) Approach
The community driven development approach for the Conditional Cash Transfer (CCT) Scheme is expected to ensure ownership of project by community, right targeting, that responsibility and accountability is to the people, and empowerment of the people by giving them a voice.
The Community Driven Development model is being utilised in several projects. These include the Community-based Poverty Reduction Project (CBPRP), the Community Based Agric and Rural Development project; Local Empowerment and Environmental Management Programme (LEEMP); and the Community based Natural Resource Management Project. It has also been tested and successful in Tanzania and Zambia, and Kenya.
Other stakeholders like NAPEP and MDG Office also have various roles to play in the success of the CCT scheme. The NAPEP Headquarters is expected to provide overall coordination and technical expertise for the implementation of the project; to supervise conduct of baseline survey at the commencement of the project; to monitor the implementation of the scheme; and to conduct periodic evaluation of the scheme.
The NAPEP State offices are expected to sensitise the participating states on the roles of the State and participating communities; to coordinate Stakeholders at State and community level; and to conduct community sensitisation in collaboration with the state government.
The MDG Office is expected to provide funds for the Scheme, and to monitor utilisation of funds.
Under the CCT scheme, joint accounts are to be operated by NAPEP state office, and the participating financial institution ensures adequate monitoring of fund disbursement.
Money is paid monthly to selected households through schools or health centers as pay points, while the financial institutions are to transfer all the funds to the participants without charging the participants any fee.
The interest accruing to the CCT account are to be partly utilised in the payment of the financial institutions administrative fees.
Monitoring and Evaluation
To ensure effective monitoring and evaluation of the scheme, NAPEP is expected to undertake three other periodic reviews of the scheme to keep track of progress in implementation.
The anti-poverty agency is also expected to employ the tool of participatory monitoring and evaluation to monitor the reach variables of access, utilisation and satisfaction of services to participating households; to ensure that services of desired quality are rendered to participants.
The Millennium Development Goals (MDG) office is also expected to employ the OPEN M and E initiative to monitor NAPEP's compliance to MDG guidelines on the utilisation of Debt Relief Gains (DRG) funds.
Emerging concerns from poverty assessment (PA) study and core welfare indicator questionnaire (CWIQ) survey of the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) both of 2006 indicate that poverty is multidimensional and that insufficient investment in the nutrition, health status and schooling in poor households ensures the persistence of poverty over time and across generations.
Even where health care and educational facilities are available, the poor have limited access to them as a result of high out-of-pocket expenses. Hence, the issue of demand side constraints to accessing welfare enhancing services is evident in the current poverty assessments of 2006.
It therefore becomes paramount to address these demand side constraints to utilisation of health and educational facilities by the chronically poor and vulnerable in Nigeria to break the vicious cycle of poverty while at the same time ensuring sustained economic growth and development.
Against this background, the NAPEP CCT was designed as a Social assistance project with the aim of addressing conditions of extreme deprivation among Nigerians.
For 2007, a part of the Federal Governments DRG for MDG was provided for Micro Credit, Conditional Cash Transfers and the Keke NAPEP Youth Empowerment Programme. Each of these Schemes has its specific target participants and implementation modalities.
Conditional Cash Transfers Scheme
As part of the SSN budget for 2007, NAPEP is expected to commit the sum of N2 billion for the implementation of a Conditional Cash Transfer Scheme. Conditional Cash Transfers are grants provided to targeted poor households on the condition that they engage in human capital investments.
Majority of current poverty eradication programmes focus on supply side projects in Education, Health, Infrastructure and Micro credit to reduce poverty. However a large number of the core poor and the vulnerable groups still remain unreached. The CCT is designed to reach this category of Nigerians.
CCT Programme Objective
These, according to NAPEP, are to reduce vulnerability of the core poor in the society against existing socio economic risks, and to reduce inter-generational transfer of poverty
The following groups are expected to be targeted: poor female-headed households with basic school age children; poor aged headed households with basic school age children; households headed by the physically challenged, (e.g. lepers); VVF patients, PLWHAs and other vulnerable groups.
Allocation of CCT Funds
NAPEP is expected to allocate 70% of CCT funds to 2 selected States in each of the six geopolitical zones.
Disbursement of Funds
The Nigerian version of the CCT has been christened as COPE (in Care Of the People). COPE has two components namely: Basic Income Guarantee (BIG) and Poverty Reduction Accelerator Investment (PRAI). The model for COPE is simply expressed as: COPE = BIG + PRAI. NAPEP intends to allocate a compulsory saving component of N 7000 per month to each participating household. This represent the PRAI component of COPE.
The BIG will be disbursed monthly to participating households based on satisfactory fulfillment of conditions and number of children per household as follows: 1 child N1,500; 2-3 children N3000; 4 children N5000.
A further compulsory saving of N7,000 monthly or N84,000 per annum shall be made in favour of participants. This represents the Poverty Reduction Accelerator Investment (PRAI) component of COPE, which shall be disbursed to the participants as a lump sum after a year, for the establishment of viable micro enterprises and after undergoing training by SMEDAN.
Mass Participation Key
To be among the top 20 largest economies in the world by 2020, Kpakol said the nation's economy must grow at about 13% annually. However, to him, only high quality growth can produce employment generation and significant poverty reduction, while the economically active poor must be directly engaged for mass participation in the economic development process.
Challenges for the Poor
These include lack of access to capital; limited access to capital; limited collateral; limited standardisation and legal title; lack of access to stable markets and information; limited development of local & distant markets; prohibitive cost of information; fragility of local community markets; infrequent supply of information; lack of access to infrastructure; and poor rural infrastructure, especially power.
Poverty is always and everywhere the result of the inability of man to acquire the empowerment needed to control the challenges of his environment. People are poor because they lack tools and capacity. They lack empowerment in: tools and new techniques, innovations, management skills and new ideas, a voice and increased economic participation.
To provide the condition for sustainable wealth creation and therefore poverty eradication in poor countries there must be a high rate of per capita output, increase in employment and total factor productivity modernisation and structural transformation of the economy, attitudinal and value-reorientation, and social, institutional and political transformation.
Community Poverty Panacea
These include girl child education, good quality education, basic healthcare, strong community awareness and participation, market access and development, sound monetary and fiscal policies, strong and high quality economic growth, rapid infrastructure development, market access and market development, and mass participation in economic development process.
Beyond a Launch
As analysts are wont to say, the problem in Nigeria is not that there are inadequate policies or instruments to achieve good governance; but that the political will to implement such policies and instruments is severely lacking.
Admittedly, the new CCT scheme, if well and effectively applied, is capable of lifting several households at the grassroots out of the doldrums of grinding poverty.
But the issue goes beyond the fan-fare of a new launch. The cash must be transferred to the needy with the barest minimum conditions. Unlike the billions trapped in financial bottlenecks under the Small and Medium Enterprises Equity Investment Scheme (SMEEIS), the new funds must be allowed to reach the final beneficiaries.
Kudos to Kpakol and NAPEP for an elaborate scheme that is expected to percolate to the grassroots. Conditional transfer, yes. But such conditions must not kill a potentially poverty eradicating scheme at inception. A warning to all stakeholders and implementers in this matter.
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