Humanitarian Affairs Minister Emerges Chair of ECOWAS Committee on Social Protection

Humanitarian Affairs Minister Emerges Chair of ECOWAS Committee on Social Protection

Nigerian Minister of Humanitarian Affairs and Poverty Alleviation, Dr Betta Edu has been named the Chairperson of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) inter ministerial committee on social protection.

In her maiden remark, Edu Urged member nations to implement the newly adopted regional social protection framework.

She also harped on the imperativeness of member countries of the Economic Community of West Africa,  ECOWAS to work towards achieving maximum social protection in the sub-region.

Speaking in Banjul, the Capital of the Republic of Gambia, at the closing session of the hybrid inter-ministerial meeting to adopt the ECOWAS regional social protection framework and operational plan, Edu told the session that the adoption of the social protection framework by member countries and full implementation was key to overcoming humanitarian and poverty challenges in West Africa.

She described the meeting crucial and remarkable as it is expected to grow the great initiatives and long-term efforts of the ECOWAS Commission with the support of partners in birthing the social protection instruments in the sub-region.

The minister who chaired the event virtually said, “Social Protection is a fundamental human right and should not be regarded as a privilege. 

“It is a social and economic necessity that has proven to be a stabilizer in times of crises and shock, and it is meant to be provided throughout  life circle.”

Edu pointed out that the COVID-19 pandemic exposed the yawning gaps in the social protection of the world, particularly in the West African sub-region, which has one of the lowest social protections in the continent.

Records, she disclosed, have shown that the coverage of Social Protection in the ECOWAS region is the lowest in the continent with an average of about 17%  of the population receiving at least one form of social protection benefits.

She also said spending was equally low as studies show that as little as 1% of the GDP of member States is spent on social protection benefits, which is a far cry in comparison to international standards.

Citing Nigeria as an example,  the Minister, however,  acknowledged that member states were making giant strides towards addressing issues of social protection at the national level by developing policies and structures/programs to change the narratives. 

Sge said, Nigeria was presently implementing one of the highest social protection interventions that covers 15 million households and, by extension, 61 million individuals through conditional cash transfers. 

According to her, this is the first of this magnitude and coverage in Africa by President Bola Tinubu, who is also the Chairman of ECOWAS, showing leadership in social protection within the region.

The minister said all interventions including humanitarian interventions were now redesigned through the lenses of the Humanitarian- Development-Peace nexus to ensure sustainable response. 

“Most importantly, a  Humanitarian and Poverty Alleviation Trust Fund has equally been approved by the Federal Executive Council to ensure the mobilization of resources for social protection interventions,” she said.

Dr. Edu who told the audience that  the time for action is now, stressed that the  Social Protection Framework for West Africa was intended to provide a broad set of guidelines and principles to ECOWAS and the Member States in the design and delivery of social protection interventions.

Also, speaking at the Closing Ceremony of the ECOWAS Regional Session,  the Vice President of the Gambia, Muhammad Jallow, commended the commitment of the member states to social protection in the region.

The closing ceremony was attended by ministers in charge of social protection in eleven countries.

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