Sokoto State gets clear roadmap for successful social protection programmes — UNICEF

Malam Isa Ibrahim, a Social Protection Officer with UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF),
says Sokoto State Government has obtained a roadmap for successful implemention of social pretection activities.

Ibrahim stated this during the Joint Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) Social Protection (SP) Project close-out
meeting with high level organs of Sokoto State Government on Monday in Sokoto.

He said that with successful achievements recorded at the end of the project, the state government was able to obtain
clear guide and policy direction of social pretection activities with clear targets of vulnerable persons in the state.

He added that “with complete framework on ground and competent government personnel empowered with right skills
during the closed project, we are confident that even without developmental partners, Sokoto can implement successful
social protection programme.

“We secured government commitment to develop social protection policy, commitment in improved budgetary allocation
to social protection.

“Before the closed project, various social interventions were implemented in Sokoto State, however, this programme
was able to coordinate and gather key ministries and departments with critical actors in a single platform.

“Mechanisms have also been formulated with empowered manpower for successful cash transfer, health supports and
other social protection aspects with correct sustainability plans,” Ibrahim said.

According to him, United Nations considers Sokoto State to pilot social protection scheme in recognition of the poverty
index from authorities which rated the state among high prevalence areas.

Ibrahim added that the programmes comprised cash transfer to education, especially for the girl-child, enrollment of
vulnerable individuals into the healthcare contributory scheme and other state social assistance initiatives.

Dr Akeem Olusola, the Programme Policy Officer of World Food Programme (WFP), said the efforts served as driver to standardised
National Social Protection Policy in Nigeria, as well as improved collation in the National Safety Nets register.

Olusola said the cash disbursement procedures, beneficiaries’ identification and other implementation strategies
were on the best standard practices that ensured minimum hitches.

He noted that the two-year programme aimed at strengthening social protection in Nigeria with good implementations
in Sokoto State was expected to serve as blueprint for other states to generate impacts through combination of institutional approach.

“The social protection system focused on innovative financing mechanisms as the joint programme would contribute to expanding
articulated cash transfer and universal health insurance schemes for greater impact,” he said.

He further explained that capacity building workshops during the exercise were expected to increase technical knowledge and
effectiveness in the mechanisms for targeting and identification of beneficiaries.

Earlier ,Alhaji Arzika Bodinga, the acting Permanent Secretary, Sokoto State Ministry of Budget and Economic Planing, expressed
appreciation over the successes recorded in the programme, saying it had broaden the state’s potential to implement the right
social protection activities.

Participants were drawn from Ministry of Women and Children Affairs, Ministry of Budget and Planning, Ministry of Health and
the Sokoto State Contributory Healthcare Management Agency (SOCHEMA).

Others were Sokoto State Primary Heath Care Development Agency (SPHCDA), Sokoto State Zakkat and Endowment Commission (SOZECOM), Sokoto State Emergency Management Agency (SEMA) and SUBEB.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the joint project which commenced in January 2020, was scheduled to end in December 2021
in three selected local government areas of Sokoto, anchored by UNICEF, International Labour Organisation, UN Development Programme
and World Food Programme. (NAN)