Nigeria to get $500 million for social safety nets – World Bank

Hauwa Noroh Ali, Abuja

In Nigeria, up to five million people, among the poorest and most vulnerable, will get access to social safety nets by 2021 through a $500 million International Development Association (IDA) credit* approved today by the World Bank Group’s Board of Executive Directors.

The Government of Nigeria will contribute $1.3 billion of its own budget to this National Social Safety Nets project (NASSP) which will lay the foundation for the establishment of the country’s first national social safety nets system.

While the sharp drop in oil revenues has shrunk its budget significantly, the federal government of Nigeria is investing in social protection to help mitigate the effect of the economic slowdown on the poor. “The fact that the Government of Nigeria is dedicating a significant chunk of its budget to social protection in challenging economic times is commendable,” said Rachid Benmessaoud, the World Bank Country Director for Nigeria. “Of key importance is the setup of an electronic national registry of poor and vulnerable households, using state-of-the art methodologies to target those who need it the most,” he added.

The National Social Safety Nets Project

The National Social Safety Nets Project will support the Government’s program by providing cash transfers to poor households throughout Nigeria, identified through a combination of geographical and community-based targeting.

Each targeted household will receive a base transfer of NGN 5,000 ($25 per month), and households among the most vulnerable will be eligible for an additional monthly benefit of NGN 5,000 a month via conditional cash transfers.

Assistance will also be provided to support beneficiaries develop long-term livelihood opportunities. The project is national in coverage, and incentives for state participation will be introduced through full federal financing of the targeted cash transfers.

Transparent targeting mechanisms will be put in place to ensure that the project reaches its intended beneficiaries, and women in particular. Citizen engagement will be a key to success and communities will be able to evaluate the quality of services they receive and voice their needs.

Nigeria’s investments in safety nets and targeted cash transfers are designed to increase consumption and protect the poorest against economic shocks, while stimulating demand for health, nutrition and education services,” said Camilla Holmemo, World Bank Task Team Leader for this project. “Social protection can have a significant impact on poverty reduction, both through the immediate effects of the transfers and the longer term investments in human and productive capital of targeted households,” she added.

The World Bank’s International Development Association (IDA), established in 1960, and helps the world’s poorest countries by providing grants and low to zero-interest loans for projects and programs that boost economic growth, reduce poverty, and improve poor people’s lives. IDA is one of the largest sources of assistance for the world’s 77 poorest countries, 39 of which are in Africa. Resources from IDA bring positive change to the 1.3 billion people who live in IDA countries. Since 1960, IDA has supported development work in 112 countries. Annual commitments have averaged about $19 billion over the last three years, with about 50 percent going to Africa.