Civil Society Organisations and stakeholders have argued that the Lagos Social Protection Policy is a vital tool to prevent and eradicate poverty. Rebecca Ejifoma reports on the need for the policy to take effect
The Lagos State Government in collaboration with the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) was the first sub-national government in Nigeria to proactively seek to harmonise her Social Interventions through a State Social Protection Policy.
In 2013, the Lagos State Ministry of Economic Planning and Budget (MEPB) was saddled with the responsibility of designing a Lagos State Social Protection Policy (LASSPP), whereby a technical working group was set up with adequate consultation of different stakeholders and relevant Lagos State Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs).
The Policy draft was produced from the inputs collated at consultations and community dialogues with all stakeholders across the three Senatorial Districts in the state.
In the words of the Chairman, Board of Trustees of LACSOP and Board Member of the Lagos State Health Management Agency (LASHMA), Ayo Adebusoye Social Protection covers a set of policies and programmes or tools of social justice targeted at large segments of the population.
This, according to the chairman, is to provide people with stable access to a means of income and quality social services, including affordable healthcare and education to reduce people’s exposure to the risks of poverty and inequality.
“Also, important to note is that SP is meant to prevent and reduce poverty for individuals throughout ‘the life cycle’, which means SP is effective from birth to death,” says Adebusoye.
This essentially means that SP interventions shall systematically target all stages of life such that the socio-economic situation in one phase does not transmit to the next phase and cumulative benefits are achieved across generations. Whether this is currently applicable or not is a point of advocacy because there is a policy provision for it already.
In 2020, according to the Executive Secretary of the Lagos Civil Society Participation for Development (LACSOP), Dede Kadiri said Lagos State faced the reality of the absence of a social protection policy that should provide a safety net for its teeming poor population when it locked down following the spread of COVID-19.
“At the time, Lagos experienced a fast decline into poverty, crime, hunger, and anarchy, as its 40 per cent poor population saw their options for survival decrease,” Kadiri recounted while speaking at a forum aimed at building the capacity of Civil Society Organisations to drive the implementation of the LASSPP.
This situation led to the speedy adoption of the LASSPP in August 2020 and it presented the State with a new opportunity to begin a sincere and collaborative effort to reduce poverty.
Also, Adebusoye identified some specific challenges of the policy which include “Limited fiscal capacity; Need for adequate funding of Budget Lines for SP programmes; Limited coverage of informal economy; Limited control of migrant workers; and Limited coverage of workers in the formal employment by the social security scheme like Health insurance, Social Housing”.
A major challenge also is the non-existence of the LASSPP Implementation Plan with key performance indicators which would guide what is expected of different stakeholders involved.
Commencing the process of a policy development in 2013 and approving such in 2020 is definitely a long time, but the most imperative, at the moment, is the implementation of such policy to achieve its set goals and objectives.
The purpose of the LASSPP is to capture all existing and ongoing Social Protection (SP) interventions and formulate new ones to efficiently coordinate and seamlessly harmonise the various projects and programmes spread across different MDAs and Sectors, which are achieving various degrees of success.
About Social Protection
According to the LASSPP, Social Protection (SP) shall mean “A mix of policies and programmes designed for individuals and households throughout the life cycle to prevent and reduce poverty and socio-economic shocks by promoting and enhancing livelihoods and a life of dignity”.
LASSPP Policy Measures
The Policy Measures are categorised into eight key components including education and health, social welfare and child protection, social housing, livelihood enhancement and employment, social insurance schemes, social assistance, traditional family and community support, and legislation and regulation.
Broadly, the Policy provides for access to quality healthcare for newborn, free education for children of school age, school feeding programme at different stages; provision of capital, equipment, assistive devices and skill acquisition programmes for youths.
Others are disability and employment trust fund; business supports clinic for entrepreneurs/ start-ups, artisans; long and short term skill training/financial assistance for widow, vulnerable and Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs); contributory pensions to citizens at 60 years and above; among others.
With the above listed Policy Measures and many others, the stakeholders believe that the LASSPP, if fully implemented has the potential of reducing poverty among Lagosians.
To ensure that these potentials are not left ‘untapped’, the CSOs acknowledged that they have huge roles to play towards achieving the implementation of the policy.
Also important to note is that Social Protection (SP) is meant to prevent and reduce poverty for individuals throughout ‘the life cycle’, which means SP is effective from birth to death