The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) has appealed to the Kaduna State Government to increase investment in social protection, to address multidimensional poverty affecting 50 per cent of children in the state.
UNICEF Social Policy Specialist, Mrs Ramatu Aliyu, made the call in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Kaduna on Thursday.
Aliyu told NAN on the sideline of the inauguration of Situation Analysis of Children (SitAn) report in Kaduna State, that although the government had done a lot, there was need to do more.
She urged the government to progressively scale up social protection programmes in the state including cash transfers and other livelihood support programmes.
She also advised the state to introduce child grants to accelerate poverty reduction, human development, and address some of the financial barriers to households accessing basic social services.
According to her, social protection has been recognised internationally as a way forward for managing many critical social challenges and poverty.
She said that the SitAn report has shown that more than 50 per cent of children in Kaduna state were experiencing multidimensional poverty.
“If the state really wants to address these challenges, then social protection is one of the key areas to invest in.
“Kaduna State is already doing a lot through implementation of various social protection programmes such as free education, health insurance for the poor and vulnerable among other interventions.
“However, there is still a lot to be done. We have to think of the excluded population, those in rural communities, including internally displaced persons and refugees around the state.
“We really need to look further, and the state needs to ensure a strategic and coordinated approach to social protection,” she said.
She commended the state government for the efforts so far, adding that all Ministries, Department and Agencies must be brought together to think strategically around dressing child poverty.
“UNICEF will continue to work with the state government to see how we can address the issue of child poverty and bring child protection to the for-front of discussions in the state.
“Our vision for social protection in Kaduna is a state where every child is being supported by the state government regardless of where they come from,” the social policy specialist said.
She said that the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child has provided for all persons under 18 years the right to survival, development rights, protection, participation, and social security rights.
According to her, the deprivation of these essential rights contributes to the multiple deprivations children face and causes child poverty.
“Therefore, investment in early childhood development is crosscutting and fundamental to sustainable human capital development and the government is a key stakeholder responsible for providing social goods and services.”
NAN reports that the Situation Analysis of children conducts a causal analysis of the degree of the realisation of non-realisation of child rights in the country.
It investigates the unequal realisation of rights across different dimensions and fosters an understanding of the drivers of the inequities.
It emphasises the need to build a conceptual framework to guide the analysis and develop the narrative of children’s rights and well-being.
The SitAn provides room for the prioritisation of top issues concerning children and serves as policy reference document for use in the state and national planning process, development framework and development aid support.
It supports advocacy, design and implementation of child-sensitive policies and programmes.