The Federal Government says it will inaugurate a COVID-19 Rapid Response Register, an emergency intervention database, for the urban poor made poorer by the pandemic. Joe Abuku, Communications Manager, National Social Safety Nets Coordinating Office, has disclosed.
In an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria, on Sunday, in Abuja, Abuku said the register would identify Nigerians who had sunk deeper into poverty as a result of the economic shocks caused by the pandemic.
“This register is being built by NASSCO as an expansion of the existing National Social Safety Nets Project. It targets small businesses owners, street vendors, petty traders, Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) and service providers.
“Others are low wage employed individuals and families, including daily wage-based labourers, urban poor and destitute (persons with disabilities), and vulnerable families in slum areas, affected by the pandemic,” he further said.
According to him, the register, being put together by the Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development, through NASSCO, and in partnership with the World Bank, will be inaugurated by the Vice President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, on Tuesday, at Transcorp Hilton, Abuja.
“The category of Nigerians who will be in this register is typically the urban/semi urban poor engaged in the informal sectors of the economy, who lost their source of livelihood due to the impact of COVID-19 on businesses and jobs.
“The Federal Government plans to extend cash transfers to households in this register for a period of 12 months,” he said.
On the economic impact of the pandemic, Abuku said around the world, it had disrupted livelihoods and hurt businesses with many small business owners, petty traders and daily wage workers unable to return to business or get back to work.
He said that in Nigeria social protection systems had come under intense pressure and prompted the government to invest more resources to assist those dealing with the economic shocks and threats posed by the pandemic.
He added that the register would identify the non-traditional urban poor who lost their livelihoods and consequently became poorer and more vulnerable from the harsh economic impact of COVID-19.
Abuku said that to identify Nigerians who had been made poorer in urban and semi-urban areas for registration, NASSCO would rely on geographical satellite remote sensing technology to locate urban poor wards and communities.
He added that targeting and enrolment of affected households would be done using cellphone Short Messaging Service (SMS) technology that allowed residents of targeted communities register to be assisted by following simple steps using USSD codes.
This technology approach, he said, was integrated with the National Living Standard Survey Assessments and would be complemented by existing databases of Non-Governmental Organisations, local self-help-support groups, and neighbourhood structures in the communities.
“Mobile phone numbers of those deemed eligible for assistance will be linked to digitised bank accounts to receive cash support, under an expanded cash transfer program of the Federal Government.
“These cash payments are designed to boost consumption for these households, build their resilience, and in some cases, inject fresh capital into small businesses,” he said.
NAN reports that NASSCO is a component of NASSP, established in 2016 by the Federal Government, through a World Bank assisted Project.
It coordinates and consolidates the building blocks of a safety net system at national and state levels that can deliver targeted support to poor households across Nigeria.