Rural Cash Grant as another humanitarian ministry’s poverty alleviation intervention

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Minister Farouq

The Federal Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development (FMHADMSD) recently began the distribution of N20, 000 cash grants to 2,900 rural women in the Federal Capital Territory and other parts of the country under its National Social Investment Programmes (NSIP). PAUL OKAH takes a look at the ministry’s poverty alleviation programmes.

For the majority of Nigerians, the Federal Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development (FMHADMSD) remains the best thing to happen to the citizens as a result of its many people-centred programmes.

Since the inception of President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration in 2015, the plight of the poor and vulnerable in the country has been a source of concern to the federal government, which led to the introduction of the National Social Investment Programme (NSIP) in 2016; as a strategy for the reduction of poverty.

FMHADMSD’s poverty alleviation programmes

Investigations by this reporter have revealed that the NSIP is one of the largest social protection programmes in Africa, with over N400 billion earmarked annually to positively impact the lives of the poor and vulnerable in the country.

Since its introduction in 2016, the NSIP has unarguably changed the lives of the poor and vulnerable in Nigeria, with life-changing experiences of many poor people who lived below the poverty line and those that are vulnerable to shocks.

Blueprint Weekend’s checks revealed further that as of July, 2022, over 12 million Nigerians had benefitted from NSIP interventions in the last five years, including nearly one million unemployed graduate beneficiaries under the N-Power Batches A, B and C nationwide, each taking home a monthly stipend of N30,000.

Also, nearly 300,000 non-graduates are presently receiving training and starter-packs empowerment, in addition to a monthly stipend of N10,000 for a period of 9 months.

Furthermore, almost 12 million poor and vulnerable households have been recorded in a National Social Register (NSR), from which 2 million poor and vulnerable households have been mined into a National Beneficiary Register (NBR), who are receiving a monthly cash transfer of N5, 000.

Similarly, 9.8 million Primary 1-3 pupils nationwide are receiving nutritious meals prepared by over 100,000 cooks who are all women, while nearly 3 million Nigerians have benefitted under the Government Enterprise Empowerment Programme (GEEP), with the ministry revealing that about one million will access the GEEP loans soon.

N20, 000 cash grant for vulnerable groups

At the peak of the Covid-19 pandemic in 2020, the FMHADMSD launched the Cash Grant for Rural Women, in order to sustain the social inclusion agenda of President Buhari’s administration.

Under the programme, beneficiaries are given a one-off grant of N20, 000 each to establish or invest in existing businesses; in order to lift their families from the manacles of poverty.

On July 28, no fewer than 2,900 rural women across the six area councils of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) received N20, 000 the one-off grant each from the federal government, under NSIP.

Speaking during the flag-off of disbursement of the grant for 2,900 beneficiaries in Abuja, the Minister of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development, Sadiya Umar Farouq, said the programme “will now be known as Grant for Vulnerable Groups (GVG), in order to encourage inclusivity,” adding that rural women in different states of the federation “will also receive the one-off grants.”

She said: “In view of the life-changing experience of beneficiaries of NSIP, President Buhari graciously approved the expansion of the programme to touch more lives and lift more Nigerians out of poverty. With Mr. President’s approval, we will double the coverage on job and wealth creation opportunities for the teeming youths in the country, including the FCT and increase the number of beneficiaries of the School Feeding, Conditional Cash transfer, and GEEP loans.

“We will also intensify effort to ensure implementation of these laudable pro-poor programmes is sustained beyond this Administration so that Nigeria will remain on the trajectory of poverty alleviation and achieve our national and global development goals by 2030.

“Under GVG, a cash grant of N20, 000 is being disbursed to poor women and youths across the 36 States of the Federation and the FCT. Our target in the FCT is to disburse the grant to over 2,900 beneficiaries across the 6 Area Councils. In line with President Muhammadu Buhari’s social inclusion, 70% of the total number of beneficiaries is for women while the remaining 30% is for the youth.”

The minister added, “In addition, about 15% of the total number of beneficiaries is specifically allocated to the segment of the population with special needs, including Persons with Disability (PWDs), internally displaced persons (IDPs) and senior citizens in the FCT. The cash grant we are disbursing today is expected to increase income and productive assets of the target beneficiaries, especially when economic challenges at global and local levels are affecting the socioeconomic conditions of our people.

“It is our hope that the beneficiaries of this programme will make good use of the grant to improve productive activities that would generate more income and improve their living standard. We hope to see petty traders, peasant farmers, artisanal workers and other beneficiaries of this programme including people with disabilities to prosper.”

In her remarks, the National Coordinator Conditional Cash Transfer, Hajiya Halima Shehu, also announced that the GVG “is now fully digitised.”

“From the National Cash Transfer office, we have fully digitized the process. We have over 1.9million beneficiaries that now have NUBAN accounts across commercial banks in the country. This is a huge milestone because records have shown that there is no programme of this type that has achieved such success.

“Six months ago, we flagged off digitisation. All our beneficiaries now have debit cards from different banks across the country. We have given them a lot of coaching and mentoring financially and so we can now say that they have been financially included because they are now fully banked,” she said.

Senior citizens not left out

While many people disregard the older generation, especially senior citizens, on the excuse that they no longer have anything to offer, Farouq believes they have a lot to offer, having spent years serving Nigeria in different capacities

Speaking on July 28, during the commemoration of the one year anniversary of the National Senior Citizens Centre (NSCC), the minister reiterated the need for data gathering on the ageing population in order to provide adequately for them and reduce vulnerabilities.

“As the proportion of the older people continues to increase in Nigeria, I urge you to expand your activities by engaging the State Governments for further collaboration. There is the need for expanded and improved information and analysis of the aging population to assist policymakers to define, formulate goals and programmes, raise public awareness and support for required policy changes.

“We are happy to celebrate the first year anniversary of the take-off of the National Citizen centre. We cannot continue to neglect our older persons in view of their experience, knowledge and skills in our communities. The older persons have been long neglected in our communities and the time for urgent action and intervention is now.”

Beneficiaries thumb up minister

Expressing gratitude, one of the beneficiaries of CVG in FCT, Mrs. Elizabeth Lalu, commended Farouq and her numerous intervention programmes for the poor, saying the N20,000 grant would help her to revive her petty business.

“I sell roasted plantain and yam in Lugbe. I am a grandmother. My business had been going down because of funds, so I am grateful to the Honourable Minister of Humanitarian Affairs for this intervention. It means a lot to me. It will go a long way to revive my business,” she said.

Also, Grace Sunday, who deals in oil perfume, said the grant would enable her to buy more as the demand was usually difficult for her to meet as a result of paucity of funds.

“One of my friends told me to send my name through an NGO, which I did. I got a message to come for the grant today. I sell oil perfume. The N20, 000 is going to give a facelift to my business. The perfumes are a little pricey, but I will be able to get more with this grant. I will reach out to more of my customers. I will buy 3 milligram and sell them off.

“The money will go a long way as I will buy more than the quantity I usually buy. Sometimes, the demand is much, but I don’t usually have money to meet up. So, with this money, instead of buying 5 packs of oil perfume, I will now buy 10 or more. So, I can’t find enough words to thank the minister, but God knows I am grateful for this intervention,” she said.

On her part, Grace Agu, thanked President Buhari for his benevolence, saying the money would support her existing petty business and help lift her out of poverty.