By Philip Yatai
The National Social Protection Forum (NSPF) has described the National Social Register (NSR) as a valuable asset to addressing poverty and vulnerability among Nigeria’s population.
The National Coordinator of the forum, Dr Taiwo Benson, stated this in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Abuja on Wednesday.
Benson told NAN on the sidelines of a two-day policy dialogue on Nigeria’s poverty and vulnerability profile, that the NSR was pivotal to the success of the country’s poverty reduction and prevention measures.
According to him, the NSR is a repository of poor and vulnerable households, aggregated from the states’ Social Registers.
He added that the register, developed through a participatory and credible approach, serves as an information system where beneficiaries of social protection interventions were selected from.
He described social protection a set of policies and programmes designed to reduce and prevent poverty and vulnerability throughout the life cycle of targeted populations.
Benson pointed out that the Multidimensional Poverty Index released by the National Bureau of Statistics shows that 63 per cent of Nigeria’s population were multidimensionally poor.
According to him, the NSR will serve as a single database of the poor and vulnerable population that indicates who they are, where they are, and what they need.
“This will enable the government to plan and tailor specific social protection interventions that will take the beneficiaries out of poverty based on their poverty and vulnerability level.”
He advised the Federal and State governments against jettisoning the register on account of credibility issues that clouded the NSR.
He said that although it may not be a perfect document, it remains a valuable registry that provides a clear picture of who and who were the poorest and most vulnerable in communities.
“Yes, the registry may not be perfect, it is flexible and open for improvement to accommodate new realities, emerging issues and needs.
“Yes, there could be gaps, but not enough to throw away the register.
“What we need is to strengthen and enhance the registry to accommodate critical indicators to address emerging concerns in implementation of programmes and policies to tackle poverty and vulnerability,” Benson said.
The coordinator also appealed to the Nigerians to have faith in the social register, stressing that huge resources were invested in developing the register.
He cautioned the directive by the National Economic Council, asking states to develop a new register for poor and vulnerable people for the plan Cash Transfer programme as palliative to the fuel subsidy removal.
According to him, the move may be open to a lot of influences, which in the long run, may not acquire the needed credibility that stakeholders hope to see.
Mr Yimave Gyanggyang, Senior Policy and Stakeholder Engagement Advisor, Save the Children International (SCI), described the NSR as the “most credible and expanded gateway” to supporting the poor and vulnerable population in Nigeria.
Gyanggyang said the players in the social protection sector have agreed on the need to have a harmonised database of poor and vulnerable households in the country.
He said that SCI, under its Expanding Social Protection for Inclusive Development project, would continue to support conversations that would enhance the credibility and usability of the social register.
NAN reports that the meeting was organised by Social Protection Development Partners Group, made up of SCI, UNICEF, and European Union among others.
The meeting was organised for the stakeholders to develop a common understanding of poverty and vulnerability in Nigeria, identify key indicators and develop a profile to inform policy and programme design.
NAN reports that the NSR is owned by the 36 States and the FCT. NAN) (www.nannews.ng)
Edited by Sadiya Hamza