FG to Partner UK Agency on Poverty Alleviation in North-east Region

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Sadiya Umar- Farouq

Olawale Ajimotokan in Abuja

The federal government is set to partner the United Kingdom Nigeria Infrastructure Advisory Facility (NIAF) and Department for International Development (DFID) on the reduction of poverty in the region ravaged by Boko Haram insurgency.

The understanding in line with the efforts of the President Muhammadu Buhari administration towards repositioning the North-east part was discussed yesterday at a meeting between the Minister of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development, Sadiya Umar Farouq, and the delegation of the UK NIAF/DFID led by Professor Chidi Onyia in Abuja.

Farouq said the mandate of the ministry was to coordinate all national and international interventions as regards humanitarian issues in the country and to ensure strategic disaster management responses so as to manage and implement all the responses adequately and effectively.

She said after disaster and humanitarian interventions, the next step to focus on is how to support the vulnerable groups to be economic and self-reliant and to rehabilitate and reintegrate them back into the society.

According to her, “We are looking at early recovery aspect of our work especially in the North-eastern part of the country which was devastated by the insurgency.

“I always say that giving people relief materials is not just sustainable on how rich a country is. Our focus is to empower the vulnerable group, and that is why the social intervention programme is located in the ministry because there are different clusters that deal with empowerment of vulnerable groups and how government can support them.”

She stressed that the ministry is in need of technical support in the areas of data management, policy development and institutional strengthening, adding that finding optimised funding and sourcing opportunities is very key “because without adequate funding, the sector may not achieve much.”

Earlier, the leader of the delegation, Prof Onyia, said the UK NIAF is a DFID-funded facility designed to enhance and support the management of Nigeria’s infrastructure development and the sole purpose is to provide technical assistance to Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs).

“The ultimate objective is to help governments support their agenda in poverty reduction, job creation and open up corridors for more economic growth within the government. We have five components-power, capital budget, roads, public private partnerships (PPP) focused on unlocking private finances into the infrastructure space; and the Northeast, which is a combination of all the other components and the main reason for our visit to the ministry.

“Our engagements with ministries are demand-driven. We focus on three areas which are projects that are feasible, sustainable and impactful. Our technical assistance is not a blanket one rather task-oriented, project focused and time bound,” Onyia stated.

The group said the key identified conflict drivers of the North-east are poverty, low human development and significant socio-economic infrastructure gaps in the region, and “UK NIAF is looking at how to support the federal government in addressing the gaps.”

Onyia said UK NIAF is ready to partner the ministry in data management, policy, quality assurance, programme design and project management as well as institutional strengthening.