By Kayode Abdulazeez
United Nations Development Programme, UNDP, in partnership with the Kwara State Government on Friday launched post-Covid-19 Socio-Economic Revitalisation Support Programme to give unconditional cash transfer to the vulnerable residents of the state.
Speaking at the laughing ceremony of the programme held at the Banquet hall, Ilorin, the UNDP representative in Nigeria, Mohamed Yahaya, said “It is no secret that our world as we knew it suffered a devastating blow in 2020, setting us back by five years and erasing good progress we have made in attainment of the SDGs.
“The global Human Development report recently launched by UNDP states that; Human Development Index (HDI) value has declined for two years in a row in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic.
“For Kwara State, whose primary means of livelihood is agriculture, the lockdown severely affected farm produce, incurring losses in output, and business in general, further widening the gap between rich and poor.
“This initiative seeks to strengthen the capacities of communities affected by the impact of the pandemic, with over 3,000 women and youths expected to benefit.
“The UNDP has so far implemented the programme across 10 states in the Country, with over 80,000 beneficiaries supported since 2020 to date.
“As we shed off the uncertainties that have trailed the pandemic; the aftermath of the global lockdowns and economic recessions, we must consistently put one foot in front of the other if we are going to move past these challenges. This project seeks to address socio-economic challenges in affected communities
Mohamed however commended the state government for rising to the occasion at all times and for implementing several initiatives to support the people of the State.
Special Assistant to the President on SDGs Princess Adejoke Orelope-Adefulire, who was represented by Mr. Israel Echukwu, said all hands must be on deck for the country to achieve greatly on the implementation of SDG goals, and hailed the Governor for doing so well in this respect.
In her welcome address, the Senior Special Adviser to the Kwara State Governor on SDG, Dr Jamila Bio Ibrahim, said Covid-19 has imposed untold hardship on many vulnerable people, particularly women and youth in rural areas across the state.
“This laughing of economic revitalization programme for vulnerable communities affected by Covid-19 in Kwara state by UNDP is seeks to complement existing developmental initiatives in Kwara state that ensure social security.
“We must commend his excellency our governor for relentless efforts to improve the Human Capital of our people and for creating an enabling environment for the SDGs to thrive in Kwara.
“I want to comment the resident representative of the Federal Republic of Nigeria for the United Nations Development Programmes (UNDP) Mr. Mohamed Yahya, team of UNDP, especially Mrs. Clare Henshaw, and SSA to the president on SDGs, Princess Adejoke Orelope Adefuire, for facilitating this laudable programe for the people of Kwara.
Jemila added that the scheme will also help in the achievement of Target 2.3 of the Zero hunger goal 2 of the SDGs: which aims that By 2030, the agricultural productivity and incomes of small-scale food producers would have double.
Appreciating the UNDP and Federal Government for the initiative, Governor AbdulRahman AbdulRazaq said “there are enough evidences to prove that Cash Transfer programme for the vulnerable people is a workable solution to extreme poverty.
“Cash transfer to vulnerable people has proven to be a workable solution to extreme poverty. There are documented evidences of how putting money directly in the hands of the needy has helped to refocus the global efforts to empower people. It gives people the power to dictate the direction of their own future,” he said.
“In Kwara State, we have long domiciled the cash transfer policy of President Muhammadu Buhari. It works for us as it has worked for the Federal Government. Through our social investment programmes and some other interventions, we have reduced the poverty rate from 30.2% to 20.4%. We have also helped young people to grow their businesses.
“Like our own Owo Arugbo, I am aware that the UNDP’s cash transfer has no strings attached. Regardless, I urge beneficiaries to use the money judiciously. This is the way to encourage organizations like the UNDP and the government to do more in the hope that the objective of spreading wealth will not be defeated.
“We commend UNDP, for your roles in making our world a better place. This initiative is a life-saver for vulnerable families and small businesses who were badly hit following the COVID-19 pandemic.” he said
In attendance were the Chief of Staff to the President Professor Ibrahim Gambari, traditional rulers, representatives of artisans and NGOs groups.