COVID-19: How Kaduna beats FG, other states to develop 100 percent social register
By Sola Ojo
When it comes to solving social problems in Nigeria, it becomes an Herculean task due to inadequate statistics like what the country witnessed at the wake of COVID-19. Where the statistics are available, a lot of Nigerians and development partners, don’t really trust the credibility of such statistics, hence, it becomes difficult to address pressing issues holistically.
For example, the National Social Register captured about 2.6 million poor and vulnerable households (PVHHs) out of which about 1.2 million considered to be poorest of the poor have been benefitting from the Federal Government’s conditional cash transfer even before the emergence of the ravaging novel coronavirus academic. Up till today, a lot of Nigerians have been asking the authority how the statistics were arrived at, how did government identified poor homes among others.
In one of his recent addresses to Nigerians, President Muhammadu Buhari, ordered the Federal Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development, to add one million household to the existing register so more vulnerable groups could be supported to move out of their extreme poverty.
World poverty clock reported that about 80 million Nigerians are poor, living below the poverty line – a contradiction to economic performance rate of the country.
It was against these backgrounds that the Kaduna State Government decided to lead other states in developing own social register without necessarily waiting for the Federal Government’s responsible ministry.
Already, the State Government had built the capacity of Community Based Targeting Teams (CBTTs) and enumerators in three senatorial zones – Zaria, Kaduna and Kafanchan to capture 70 percent poor and vulnerable homes across the State. This was because about 30 percent of PVHHs from nine local government areas which are Kachia, Sanga, Kauru, Birnin Gwari, Chikun, Kajuru, Ikara, Kubau and Lere are already benefitting from the National Social Safety-Nets Programme (NASSP), hence, the need to capture 70 percent in remaining 14 local government areas of the State.
19 team members were carefully selected from each of the 14 LGAs as community based targeting teams and enumerators for identification and capturing of PVHHs.
The State Governor, Nasir El-Rufai, through the office of the State Operations Coordinating Unit (SOCU) with guidance from the National Social Safety-Nets Coordinating Office (NASSCO), has been working to actualize a Social Register that leaves no one or groups behind.
NASSCO, under the Federal Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development is building a National Social Register and coordinating livelihood support to extremely poor and vulnerable households in the country.
One of the aims of the training was to enable permanent residents of the identified community identify poor and vulnerable groups among them based on what they agreed upon as yardstick for being poor, using Proxy Means Test (PMT) – scientifically proven way of identifying poorest of the poor.
In Kaduna, some of the indicators of poverty and vulnerability include but not limited to inability to pay school fees, inability to afford basic medical services, unemployment, lost of livelihood, natural disaster, shelter, disability, orphan, and widowhood/divorce/irresponsible marriage partner.
Focal Person, National Social Investment Programmes, Kaduna State, Mrs Saude Amina Atoyebi, described the development as unprecedented in the history of Kaduna State.
According to her, the training was vital to improve the needed data in Social Register without which it would be practically impossible to truly serve the poorest and vulnerable citizens in Kaduna State.
To her, “the importance of data cannot be overemphasized especially in difficult times such as this where the provision of support to poor and vulnerable households (PVHHs) need to be backed by evidence of who these persons are and how they were identified.
“The number of PVHHs captured on the Social Register was 20,500 in 9 Local Government Areas (LGAs) only. The Governor, recognizing the importance of this data, tasked us to rapidly populate the register. Today, about 8 months later, we now have over 130,000 PVHHs across the same 9 LGAs”, she said.
She encouraged the trainees to be selfless in the task before them saying, ” the State Government, has this day, entrusted you with the noblest of services, to serve the poorest and most vulnerable citizens.
“Through your efforts, the PVHHs will stand a better chance at a life of dignity, which will further actualize the vision of the Governor, to ensure that no poor person sleeps hungry or suffers avoidable socio-economic shocks”, she admonished.
Acting Head, National Social Register (NSR), Mr Mohammed Bala, commenced the State for it’s readiness to develop own social register up to 100 percent.
“Kaduna state who is currently building the social register in nine Local Government Areas applied for approval to speed up the capturing process to 100 percent.
“The state agreed to sponsor the training of the CBTTs and enumerators to support the capturing of the remaining 70 percent PVHHs in all the local government areas of the state.
This is the first of its kind in the country”, he said.
Coordinator, State Operations Coordinating Unit (SOCU) of the National Social Safety-Nets Programme, Mrs Nina Dawong, urged the CBTTs and enumerators to consider the assignment as a call to serve humanity, a task that must be carried out with utmost fear of God.
When contacted, a group of civil society on social protection, Kaduna Social Protection Accountability Coalition (KADSPAC), commended the state government for engaging community members in the identification and documentation of PVHHs in the state’s Social Register.
Chairperson of the group, Ms Jessica Bartholomew pointed out that, a community-driven approach to government interventions was key to building the needed public trust and sustainability of the programmes.
“This is in line with the guidelines of the National Social Safety-Nets Coordinating Office (NASSCO) to ensure community participation and ownership.
“This community-led approach is clear evidence of citizens engagement in the formulation and implementation of government programmes in the state,” she said
Reacting, The Village Head, Dakace, Zaria Local Government area of the State, Alhani Saidu Mua’zu, was optimistic that the mapping, identification and capturing of PVHHs would be a success if the people charged with the responsibility do it well and keep their biases away from the task before them.
Also reacting, Ward Head of Rumada Community in Kafanchan, Jema’a Local Government Area of the State, Malam Haruna Ango, commended the Federal and Kaduna State Governments for remembering the poor and vulnerable.
To this leader, the poor and vulnerable people in the community were suffering from untold hardship due to poverty and need all the support they can get.
“I really commend the federal and state governments for initiating the social register of poor and vulnerable households at the national and state level.
“This is a sure way of reaching out to the poor and vulnerable with one form of support or the other to improve their chances of survival and quality of life”, he said.
With steps such as this, the onions lie with the community based targeting teams and enumerators to adhere strictly to the principles and practices of the identification and capturing of PVHHs in Kaduna State and by extension, Nigeria as a whole whereby a proven social register document could be developed to help Nigerians in need during emergency like COVID-19.