The Kaduna state government yesterday, 23rd February 2021, launched its Social Protection Policy. This represents a giant leap in efforts to strengthen the delivery of social protection interventions in the state. It is also timely as the state is presently challenged by increasing poverty rate and widening inequality gaps. This is as a result of rising population, insecurity, struggling economy and negative impact of covid-19.

Hence, the need to go beyond ad-hoc measures in addressing poverty and vulnerability risks, which is usually characterized by – weak coordination, low funding, high level of error of inclusion and exclusion during targeting, political interference, lack of poor data management, inadequate stakeholders engagement and near absence of accountability. Also key is the need to ensure public attitudinal change and paradigm shift towards such interventions through behavioral change communication.

No doubt, even a casual reader will observe the policy has a comprehensive and strategic framework with components that provides for institutional arrangements – coordination mechanism – implementation strategy – monitoring, evaluation and learning (MEL) system – cost and financing arrangements – data and information management system – and phased implementation.

However, developing and approving a policy is the easiest part, as we are all aware effective implementation has always been the problem in this country. It is commendable that the government is providing a legal framework that will lead to the establishment of a coordinating agency and allocating 1% of the net Internally Generated Revenue in the budget; but these are indeed not enough in themselves to achieve the desired results. Hence the need to give serious thought as to how all hands must be on deck to ensure effective and sustained implementation.

The starting point is for sustained public awareness creation to get the buy-in, ownership and increase participation of all critical stakeholders. Thankfully, the policy outlines the role of each category of partners – International Development Partners, Civil Society Organizations and Private Sector. Also, it has a clearly stated result framework that civil society can use to track, report and hold the government accountable.

In view of this, below are a few more highlights of the policy you should know:

• The Policy was developed by the State Steering Committee, approved in 2020 and launched in February, 2021.

• It is developed in line with National Strategy on Social Protection 2017; while taking due cognizance of the peculiarities of Kaduna State.

• The mantra of the policy is – Life of dignity for all.

• It is hinged on the values of responsiveness, transparency, accountability, fairness and inclusiveness.

• The vision is a Kaduna State where the poorest and most vulnerable residents are supported to live productive, fulfilling and dignifying lives.

• The mission is to establish and strengthen the delivery of social protection to residents of Kaduna state through inclusive, well coordinated and sustainable interventions.

• The goal is inclusive human development and life of dignity for all residents.

• According to the policy, in Kaduna state, social protection is the totality of steps taken to address the vulnerability of the poorest residents by mitigating their social and economic shocks.

• The social protection system takes the life course and transformative approach to Social Protection.

• It seeks to address such gaps as limited coverage or targeting, inclusion, coordination, financing, high rate of poverty and vulnerability, lack of comprehensive and reliable data.

• The design is hinged on gender mainstreaming, care for the aged particularly those in the informal sector and adoption of multi-sectoral approaches.

• There was civil society consultation and participation from the conception to final design of the policy.

• It has 5 objectives and 32 measures; the objectives are categorized under social assistance, social insurance, labor market, social care outreaches, and legislation, regulations and institutional rudiments.

• All actions can be categorized into four approaches: protective, preventive, promotive and transformative measures.

• The policy has 7 interventions across 2 objectives that specifically target or mention as part of beneficiaries the persons with disability.

• The policy recognizes the role of State Emergency Management Agency SEMA in forestalling and controlling spillover effects of insecurity in the State and will cooperate with the agency to prevent security challenges from thrusting citizens back into poverty

• For effective implementation of all social protection programmes in the State, an implementation plan for the policy has been developed

• The government has adopted an incremental approach to the implementation of the policy.

• The first phase of the implementation Plan will cover a period of 2021 to 2023.

• The Kaduna State Steering Committee on SP will lead the development of a four – year implementation strategy for Kaduna state.

• The Government will establish an agency to coordinate and provide a framework for engagements on implementation of SP programmes in the State

• A central data portal for capturing and auto-updating data on SP beneficiaries across the State will be established.

• It has a cost and financing arrangements driven by a budget and resource mobilization mechanism

• It places social protection on the first-line charge in the state’s budget, with a caveat for a minimum of 1% of the consolidated revenue allocated for SP yearly

• It will establish an SP trust fund targeting contributions from the private sector and philanthropic groups and individuals

• It will be subjected to analysis and review once every three years.

Agreed that generally there is huge trust gap between the government and governed, which might lead to many dismissing the importance of the policy; but we must understand that the quality of governance we get is determined by the quality of our participation and engagement not only criticism. The wider residents of the State are the demand side, while the public servants are the supply side of government. This means the quality of our demand will almost surely determine the quality of supply we get.

It is not enough to point accusing finger at government failures, but we must realize that each time we point a finger, the four others are pointing back at us. Yes, you have rights, but so also roles, duties and responsibilities as a citizen. Do not forget that your right is only activated if you perform effectively your expected roles, duties and responsibilities. Lets do the needful by ensuring we actively engage, ask tough questions and meticulously hold the government accountable in the implementation of the policy.

We will be equally responsible for the policy’s success or failure either as stakeholders or beneficiaries. All hands must be on deck to protect the poor from poverty, and prevent the vulnerable from falling into poverty.

Goje is the Head – Governance Advocacy of Coalition of Association for Leadership, Peace, Empowerment & Development (CALPED) and Assistant Secretary, Kaduna Social Protection Accountability Coalition

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